Artist Dan Hernandez has an awesome new show up in New York City at the Kim Foster Gallery, combining Renaissance theology with the iconography of early computer game art — or Space Invaders by way of the Book of Genesis. As Rebecca Robertson describes the exhibition in ARTnews, “To imagine epic battles between heaven and earth, Dan Hernandez plants Super Mario Bros. clues in ancient frescoes and uses Donkey Kong architecture to build medieval fortresses.”
The gallery itself elaborates on this, writing that “the exhibit’s title ‘Genesis 2014’ refers to the artist’s on-going visual dialogue of religion, mythology, and pop culture. Hernandez blurs boundaries, rearranges hierarchies, and calls into question our notions of iconography, collectibles, violence and devotion.”
The title not only references the biblical Book of Genesis, but also the video game console Sega Genesis that was a defining moment in pop culture, especially for those in the artist’s generation. The Book of Genesis houses the creation stories: Noah’s Ark, Adam & Eve, etc. Similarly, the Sega Genesis was a vehicle for narrative video games like Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Altered Beast and others. Both have narratives that utilise the supernatural and mythical as a central and reoccurring theme. By embracing such eccentric comparisons, the artist explores the unique and interesting artistic possibilities that exist.
Infinite scrolling skies stacked with palaces await the soul of an earnest gamer, as floating castles and platforms hover overhead in elaborate offworld levels of a divine invasion. A phalanx of angels quietly assembles inside a blinding cloud of golden light, ready to send thunderbolts — or weaponised blessings — our way.
Infernal rumblings in an underground world of linked ladders indicate new depths to which this unholy action will take us. The devil himself comes armed with fire and electricity to wage arcane war against birds and shepherds.
(left) Dan Hernandez, “Massacre at Intelari Chapel,” 2014. Mixed media, 48 x 24 inches. (right) Dan Hernandez, “Tomb of San Sagatarido,” 2014. Mixed media, 48 x 24 inches. Courtesy of Kim Foster Gallery.