CHRIS FERNANDEZ’S TATTOOS HOLD THE AIR OF OLD WEST MEMORABILIA MINUS THE DUST
QUINTESSENTIALLY AMERICAN IMAGERY
Miami born Chris Fernandez didn’t lose any of his signature old- world charm as he made his way northwards to join the staff at Kings Avenue Tattoo in New York City, where he is now a resident artist. Honing a very direct, no- nonsense traditional style, he built his portfolio from bold custom work and original flash designs, both of which come from quintessentially American imagery and narrative.
His tattoos have an un-penetrable consistency, and push the reaches of ‘less is more’ with a simplicity that reveals itself in layers. Perhaps even more importantly, he steers away from repeating himself from tattoo to tattoo- even the classics hold their own among a slew of replicas.
Looking at Chris’ work as a collection, it holds the air of old west memorabilia- minus the dust. No image of his lives independently from a certain context- but it’s the way he renders something that gives it a bit of its own identity. His palette is a moody one, with deep reds and ochres and ivory blacks that wreak the perfect amount of clash and compromise in a given piece.
You’re not just getting a colored- in line drawing, but something that comes together more like a painting. Chris’ flash sheets are probably the best example of the way he’s able to transfer a series of brushstrokes to skin without the usual loss of quality in between. Ringed with wings, roses and fire, his flash designs already jump off the paper they’re saddled to, so you can imagine the way they’d fall into sync with a living, moving surface.
Though he occupies a niche in terms of content, Chris is highly flexible on a stylistic level, and his pieces merge techniques to get their dimension. His work wouldn’t strike you as inherently geometric, but his use of symmetry is just as precise as someone who works with shapes and pattern as opposed to representational imagery. The line-work is bold, single- stroke but not crude. In fact, the immediacy and heavy presence of the lines foretell a good amount of planning and precision; it’s a confidence that can only come from certainty and experience.
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The last element of Chris’ handiwork that I’d use to define him as an artist and individual is, inevitably, the romance. Whether it’s the framed Pharaoh’s Horses as part of a sleeve, or the solitary lighthouse and skull reapers from a few months ago, he catches that split second of nostalgia that looks back to 20th century America. And the best part is, he then lets it go. The work is clearly inspired by another time, but doesn’t dwell on its own memory- the deep, permanent colors and thick outlines are of the now.