In painting women, Ana Hernandez doesn’t believe in the definition of beauty as dictated by society or, more specifically, by social media. For her, women of all shapes, skin color and social standing are inherently beautiful and talented.
Clearly, for someone who has seen various cultures in different countries, the well-traveled and soft-spoken Hernandez has a firm understanding of her purpose as an artist. The wife of former Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson and career diplomat Raul Hernandez (who was recently appointed ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman), Hernandez says that she wants to use her platform “to promote empowerment, goodwill, and love for culture and identity.”
In her ongoing exhibit, “Paraluman: Pamanang Sining ni Ana Algabre Hernandez,” at the Asian Social Institute’s (ASI) Hinga Acap (Association of Catholic Artists of the Philippines) Gallery, the artist celebrates women by presenting more than 50 works, including recent pieces, that hope to do just that.
Vibrant colors highlight the many facets of the women in Hernandez’s canvases, all drawn with much sincerity and hopefulness, each of them encouraging viewers to recognize the beauty that exists within.
“It is in my art and through my art that my spirit is freest and my voice is loudest,” Hernandez says.
During her husband’s tenure as ambassador to South Korea, Hernandez painted a series of works that highlighted the Filipino migrant workers’ life in that country. “The Color of Joy” features a female wearing the traditional hanbok, frolicking in a sea of flowers and finding happiness in the simplest of moments.
Similarly, in “Sunshine Queens” we see three curvaceous women in matching yellow dresses seemingly enjoying the beautiful colors of spring, a strong presentation perhaps of how we must all learn to be comfortable in our own skin and step out into the real world more often.
“The Show Must Go On,” she adds, is a reaction to the pandemic and how performance artists have learned to cope with the sudden change in the times. The subject wonders: Will there be anyone to watch or listen? Would anyone be sitting in the front row when the curtain rises?
Hernandez, born and raised in Pampanga and a behavioral science cum laude graduate at the University of Santo Tomas, was a former inflight service manager at Cathay Pacific. Her experience with the company inspired her to publish two books, “Ms. Stewardess: Stories of a Flight Attendant and Many More” in 2013 and “Welcome Aboard! The Ultimate Attendant Guide for a Successful Sky-High Career” in 2015. She also actively gives talks to students and teachers about art. Hernandez, who has had her works exhibited in both local and international galleries and institutions, is the first featured artist of Hinga Gallery, and part of the proceeds of the artwork sales will benefit scholars and programs of Acap.
“Paraluman” is ongoing until June 30.