In officially opening our 2008/09 exhibition season, Carl Hammer Gallery is honored to present the thought provoking art work of venerable Chicagoan Michael Hernandez de Luna. Though steeped in controversy, Hernandez de Luna’s activist’s vision largely concerns itself with satirically exposing contemporary social disorder and moral misconduct. In this, his newest body of work, he continues, as he has in the past, not taking the road most traveled by. This exhibition, as he does in his newly published retrospective of work, American Beauty, commemorates an abundance of topics concerned with politics, religion, and sex by infusing them with a variety of popular culture images and other media material.
As if his subject matter isn’t unsettling enough, Michael Hernandez de Luna uses the largely inept mechanism of an American institution, namely the U.S. Postal Service, to serve as co-conspirator in his tour de force antics. Creating beautifully and seamlessly realistic looking stamp pages on a computer, Hernandez de Luna then affixes one of the stamps to an appropriately selected recycled envelope, and, addressing it to himself, sends the envelope with newly minted stamp to any number of willing collaborators around the world to be posted and sent back to its maker, all bearing the cancellation marks of the country/countries from which and the hands through which it has traveled. Aside from the artist’s mastery evidenced in one’s visual perception of the creative process, Hernandez de Luna’s artistry enters completely and successfully into the realm of performance. Needless to say, the artist and his craft are often mistaken as criminal. He and his work have been derogatively classified with an amazing array of descriptive tagging. By operating from a personal conviction that no subject is taboo, Hernandez de Luna relentlessly piques at any social condition which has a festering appearance and draws our attention to its irony, its incorrectness, and ultimately, if unacknowledged, its destructiveness.