Gabe Fernandez
My focus on chairs began in 1999 when I was working as a counselor at a homeless youth shelter in Portland. My wife was studying Sociology at Portland State University and suggested I might enjoy this unique experience. In these facilities, energy levels are at extremes due to the lifestyle of the youth. One evening, the energy was particularly extreme and at 10pm everyone went to bed and the energy shut off like a light. I was overwhelmed by the sudden quiet stillness of the environment. I was sketching and I noticed this green chair in the corner. It was sitting quietly under a spot light, the shadows casting on the floor, the ripped vinyl was speaking to me visually. A story began to form in my mind of the life of this chair. I began to relate to this object through its design, history, juxtaposition, location. I began to almost empathize with this chair. I started becoming very interested our sense of place and what it means to us. It was then, I realized I could very easily focus on this subject the rest of my life. 15 years later, I am still intensely immersed in this world. Over the years, I have begun to slowly incorporate other architectural and natural elements to further express my interests in how we relate to our environment. More recently, I have focused heavily on the relation of outdoor and indoor living spaces as it transitions visually through windows. Light and shadow passing through a space has posed new challenges and interests that continue my lifelong study of shelter. Giving the attention to the details has accentuated and heightened the importance to the subjects in my work. When I see an empty room, I don’t perceive loneliness or isolation. I see a break in a very high paced, chaotic world through peace, quiet stillness and sense of pausing to clear overwhelmed senses. I don’t usually paint on site. I am overwhelmed by the distractions and stimulus in an environment. When I choose a subject or rather when a subject chooses me, I imagine how it would look as a painting on a wall in a quiet, comfortable room. I imagine the peace I will experience painting it in my studio. So I usually take quick sketches and/or photos and I will think about bringing the sense of quiet stillness to a composition. I will then let the scene sink in often many weeks to months, sometimes years. I will then have that “Aha!” moment and off I go. Even though I have a tight, technical style, I want to maintain the intuitive and expressive passion for the composition as long as possible. When the passion begins to fade, I know I am done and it is time move on the next moment. -Gabe Fernandez Source: