Plausible Reality

Photography by Jane Shirek April 1, 2011


Artist Jake Fernandez’s paintings and pastels evoking local and regional landscapes are obviously beautiful, but there’s much more to them than meets the eye.

Although Fernandez has done plein air painting in the past, that’s not how his current works reach the canvas. Instead, he says, he actually starts with "geometric, almost architectural drawings," using a mandala-like pattern that works out from the center—conforming to a very precise grid or matrix.

"I go on a trail, hiking, and some area will call my attention," says Fernandez, a native of Cuba who has lived in Bradenton for the past 20 years (after spending time in New York’s Bowery, Miami, and both Gainesville, where he received his bachelor’s degree, and Tampa, where he received his master’s). "I’m not really looking, but more sensing, sort of like a tracker. It’s not necessarily superficial beauty that attracts me; it could be quite arbitrary." He makes sketches or notations and takes photographs ("Thank God for digital," he says) before returning to his studio to create a very small graphite drawing—a black-and-white "rehearsal" for the final large-scale (think six or seven feet wide and deep) painting itself.

His work may look at first as if it has strong ties to Impressionism. But actually, he says, "The Impressionists’ impetus was to grab something immediate, to capture the moment. Mine is more an optical thing. I supply a mosaic of information to achieve what I call a ‘plausible reality.’ On your second look, you may not be sure that what you saw the first time is really there. The light changes it, as does the angle. And if you take a section of the piece out of context, it would look like an abstract."

Fernandez often sells through commissions to clients who see other pieces by him and are willing to take a chance on something he creates without necessarily knowing what they’ll receive in the end. "So far, I’ve gotten away with it," he says.

He is represented by ACA Galleries in New York and has a show coming up this fall at the San Francisco Art Institute.

To learn more about his art, call 746-7856 or go to


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