agustin hernandez photographs the seductive beauty of plants and people
Photographer Agustin Hernandez uses plants and petals to recreate his daydreams, and his hallucinatory images are strange and seductive.
The work of Portland photographer Agustin Hernandez is eerie and erotic, as if taken in that disorienting moment when a nightmare becomes a wet dream. In one photo, a model lies face down on the pavement as a shimmery gold tinsel wig cascades down the stairs. In another, a disembodied hand squeezes lemon onto a pair of breasts concealed by lobster tails. "I'm constantly visualizing images, daydreams," Agustin says, "and in the process, I strive to recreate them and turn them into photographs." Unusual props and poses are hallmarks of his work, as is his abundant use of the natural world. Plants appear in almost all of his photos, either as the subject—a redhead pukes flowers into a toilet, for example—or in the background, but even when absent in organic form they appear in floral prints (such as on a silk kimono or bloodstained mattress). More than any other flower, roses permeate Agustin's work, and it is these photos—of scattered petals with macabre masks or melancholy models—that are the most bedazzling. The roses accentuate the romance and emotion in his work. "My heart belongs to roses," Agustin explains in the following interview. "Their statement is timeless and fragile, and their thorns are threatening but their colors desirable. I love that."
How would you describe your vision as a photographer?
It's cognitive to me. There are a lot of factors that trigger my vision, but overall it is a constant idea of recreating my perception and envisioning imagery that appeals to me. It's feminine and curious but empowering.
I read that you try to recreate your daydreams by turning them into photographs. Can you elaborate on that?
I'm a big daydreamer, easily lost in my head and distracted by my surroundings and thoughts—daydreams to me are fantasies that we manifest from anything that stimulates our mind. My mind often wanders into these fantasies where I visualize a situation, scenario or a still and I can't help myself but want to transform it into my reality.
What is the last thing you were daydreaming about?
I'm neighbors to a tall red rose bush that lives between a white house and a tall wire fence; a big palm-like tree lives beside it with long branches that hang low. I envisioned a dark-haired person dressed in a long, black crushed-velvet dress, with a gold-embroidered Japanese bomber jacket over it. The person awkwardly but gracefully walks and hangs around the low branches and the fence caging the rose bush.
You often use the natural world, such as rose petals or palm fronds, in your work. What intrigues you about the natural world?
I grew up around a lot of plants—my mother has a slight obsession that I grew to admire and understand. Plants intrigue me [because] their beauty is indefinable and enlightening. Growing up, my parents worked for rose nurseries and more than occasionally they would bring bouquets home—I loved it. Plants are full of positive energy; I find they bring an enchanting aura to shoots.
The shapes and colors of plants are definitely enchanting. Do you think plants can also be sexy? Which flower or plant do you think is the sexiest?
Plants can be sexy; their appearances are mesmerizing. My heart belongs to roses, simply because they are the first flower I ever fell for as a child. Their statement is timeless and fragile, and their thorns are threatening but their colors desirable. I love that.
What is your favorite photo you have ever taken?
A couple summers ago, a friend and I went to a rose garden after closing hours. We found huge, clear plastic bags full of rose clippings and petals. I placed one of the bags in an aisle of rose bushes and put a white paper mask with red lipstick in it. The mask was pushed up against the clear plastic and created an illusion of a face. It photographed with an eerie but colorful mood that I was drawn to. The colors of the petals in the bag, with the reflection of flash of the camera on the plastic, make it feel like a painting.
What do you want people to think or understand when viewing your work?
I'd like to leave it open for interpretation, if any.
Text Zio Baritaux