To the graffiti artists who pick up this week's paper and eyeball the cover, it may look like something's missing. Jorge “Chucho” hernandez's piece, “Tagged,” is missing its own namesake—the big bold letters of a proper graffiti bomb left on the side of a building.
In place of the graffiti tag, you'll see the sketch of the building and, if you look closely, some hand-written mathematical equations.
“That's me finding the right perspective for the bricks,” hernandez says. “I was doing the math to figure out how big each brick is going to be as it's getting closer and closer to you. I thought, by leaving it there, that was giving the viewer more of a personal look into me, which, I think, is what artists need to put into each painting.”
At first he wanted to put his nickname, “Chucho,” smack in the middle of the painting, but the graffiti artists he asked to teach him how to tag kept flaking out. Eventually, the unfinished part of the painting started looking more and more like it was meant to be.
“I kind of just gave into it and said, ‘You know what, it's done,'” hernandez says. “I think it would have taken away from the painting, anyway. It's more about that artist [in the painting] than it is about me.”
Hernandez paints big. “Tagged” is about 5 feet by 4 feet and it took him about two months to finish. He prefers oil paint and is obsessed with painstakingly adding in details. “Juke Joint,” a gorgeous 9-by-4-foot painting of an all-black club in the 1920s, took him more than two years to complete.
“Looking at a blank canvas that big is definitely intimidating,” he says.
But, for now, hernandez likes to go big and slow. He's got a wife and two kids and has to support them by working as a restaurant manager by day. At some point, though, he wants to be a working artist, which means he'll have to speed things up and go smaller. Until that day comes, he'll continue taking his time and working the way he wants—big and beautiful.
Jorge “Chucho” hernandez's work will be on view at a solo show from 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at Basic, 410 10th Ave. in East Village.