Past, travel influence featured artist’s work

Summar Ghias

Artist Ramon Hernandez’s interest in philosophy and religion has taken him everywhere from a yoga school in Connecticut to the Himalayas to study with the Dalai Lama.

Now his Eastern-inspired works have made their way to Evanston.

Hernandez made his Chicago-area debut Oct. 14 at the Tucker Gallery, 1939 Central St., with a show of about 20 paintings He incorporated elements of Japanese calligraphy in his abstract works and said he was influenced by his study of Zen meditation and his encounters with the Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual leader of the Buddhist religion..

Hernandez paints on Japanese rice paper with calligraphy brushes and ink. Although he used traditional calligraphy techniques, he refrained from using actual Japanese text because of his love for the purely abstract.

Hernandez’s pieces were displayed without titles to foster individual interpretation.

“Pure abstract is important to me,” he said. “I want my work to be absolutely free to interpretation.”

Hernandez grew up in a family of painters and sculptors and became interested in art as a child. At the age of ten, he attended a prestigious art school in San Sebastian, a town in the north of Spain.

Hernandez became interested in philosophy and religion, and embarked on his study of both subjects at a school for yoga and Eastern religion in Connecticut. He then traveled to Kahakura, Japan, to study Zen Buddhism under a famous master.

“On the side, we were allowed to choose an art,” he said of his time in Japan. “I chose Japanese calligraphy.”

Hernandez then travelled to the Indian Himalayas, where his meetings with the Dalai Lama gave him a unique perspective on art. He said the influence of these meetings cannot be seen in his works, but it does provide him with a more peaceful and cohesive canvas to paint from.

“I am influenced by the Dalai Lama to a certain extent,” he said. “But I try not to put those labels on my art.”

Gallery owner Catherine Eberle met Hernandez at an art show in New York and said she was intrigued by Hernandez’s technique and abstract style.

“I don’t look for one set style,” Eberle said. “I look for artists who have a strong sense of color and composition. I have featured very traditional landscape painters and then completely abstract ones like Ramon today.”

Hernandez’s show runs through Nov. 20. The gallery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Reach Summar Ghias at [email protected]