Cantos de Sirenas: in conversation with Diango Her...

Cantos de Sirenas: in conversation with Diango Hernández

Artist Diango Hernández, born in Sancti Spiritu (Cuba) in 1970, works and lives in Europe since 2000. His works explore the complex theme of identity drawing on the poetics of the sea, an influence that has led him since his very early years in his home country. Graduated in industrial design in Havana, in the early 1990s – during the economic crisis triggered by the fall of the Soviet Union – he participated in several collective initiatives within the Cuban cultural scene; when he co-founded, together with Francis Acea, Ordo Amoris Cabinet (OAC). The artistic duo quickly made a name for itself, exhibiting throughout Europe and North America. In the early 2000s, Hernández moved to Europe, where he continued his research influenced by the work by Joseph Bueys, Marcel Broodthaers and Fluxus. On 9th November 2023, the artist will open Cantos de Sirenas at the Wizard Gallery in Milan, in which he will exhibit unpublished works, including paintings, drawings and sculptures that reveal the passion for different means of expression, and the will to combine various techniques in order to create an eclectic visual language. Thanks to his mastery of the different media, Hernández eventually succeeds in blending classical and contemporary elements.

Diango Hernández, portrait. Courtesy the artist

Ana Laura Esposito: Cantos de Sirenas is the title of your next solo show at the Wizard Gallery in Milan, what can you reveal us in advance about it?
Diango Hernández: The big novelty of this exhibition is my return to drawing. It is a complex exhibition as there will also be paintings and sculptures. All the exhibited pieces will be divided into three groups: Sirene (Sirens/Mermaids), Canti (Songs) and Locos (Places). We all know that sirens’ songs are terribly lovely and seductive and, at the same time, capable of driving us mad. Finally, I want to add that while setting up this exhibition, I was truly inspired by the physical closeness to The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci with the Gallery’s space, in via Vincenzo Monti.

Diango Hernández, Cantos de Sirenas, 2023. Oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. Ph. Antonio Maniscalco, courtesy the artist and Wizard Gallery

How did your interest in art start? Do you remember any significant episodes in your artistic career?
My interest in visual arts started late: as a child I had been first attracted to dance and only after that in drawing. Whenever I saw someone drawing, it seemed to me something magical, out of the ordinary, and this moved me. I had a friend in primary school who was an incredible draughtsman, in his spare time he used to show me his sketches, which inspired me to own my sketchbooks and to start drawing by myself. I owe it all to him. I also remember that he used to tell me to close my eyes and look inside myself in order to draw what I was seeing, which I still do every day.

Diango Hernández, Nadia, 2023. Oil on canvas, 99 x 74 cm. Ph. Antonio Maniscalco, courtesy the artist and Wizard Gallery

When did you decide to devote yourself entirely to art?
I decided to devote myself professionally to art when I finished my studies, mainly because it was the only thing that allowed me to create on my own. Creative solitude was something that I was not only passionate about during my study years, but something I truly needed, and to achieve it I always worked when others were asleep. In 1998, a German collector asked me if there was anything in my studio I did not consider art, thus I showed him hundreds of drawings that I used to do all the time tirelessly. I never thought those sketches were pieces of art, they were simply a part of me, an extension of my time and life. When the collector saw them, he told me: «These drawings are definitely art, they are your art, thus do not ever stop drawing». Years later, this prompted me to turn my entire practice into a reflection on drawing.

Diango Hernández, Cantos de Sirenas 15, 2023. Oil on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. Ph. Antonio Maniscalco, courtesy the artist and Wizard Gallery

In early 2000, you moved to Germany, how do you think this experience influenced your work?
I was already familiar with Germany because in 1998 I spent four months in Aachen participating in an art residency granted by the Ludwig Foundation in Cuba. When I arrived in Düsseldorf in 2006, I was already working with a gallery in Cologne hence I knew many artists who lived there in that period. Germany, particularly the area of West Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia), was very interesting for my work in that precise historical moment. The encounter with the oeuvre by Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers and especially Fluxus made my research rapidly proliferate. Already in 2006, I represented Germany at the São Paulo Bienal, attracting the attention of several German institutions. In general, being in Germany has been a great adventure: beyond the cultural and linguistic differences, the challenge was to establish my artistic practice continuously in a country that presents a great density of institutions, academies and artists of the highest level.

Ana Laura Esposito


Diango Hernández, Cantos de Sirenas
09/11/2023 – 31/12/2023
Wizard Gallery
via Vincenzo Monti 32, 20123 Milan


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