Let's start with forever

In a new exhibition, Mexican-Taiwanese artist Pedro Hernandez explores what it means to make a home

Pedro Hernandez's exhibition being installed at Speedy Grandma. Photo: courtesy of Unchalee Anantawat

A newcomer to the Thai art scene, Mexican-Taiwanese artist Pedro Hernandez is holding his first solo exhibition at Speedy Grandma, as part of the Bangkok Biennial.

Turning everyday objects and materials into design furniture and artworks that are meant to be enjoyed with loved ones, Hernandez's works explore daily rituals of intimacy and spark a discussion on the notion of "home". Life spoke to Hernandez ahead of the exhibition "No Measure Of Time With You Will Be Long Enough. But Let's Start With Forever".

What was the idea behind your show?

As someone who had a multicultural upbringing and having grown up between two cities, Taipei and Los Angeles, I've always wondered about the definition of 'home' and asked myself what the elements are that contribute to the feeling of 'being at home' somewhere. My family and I have moved houses a considerable amount of times, but since coming to Bangkok, I've come to the conclusion that 'home' is a place that you create for yourself and that involves your loved one. That is how I came to produce objects and images that relate to the everyday quality of life and daily rituals that are meant to be shared.

Your practice involves elements of design as well as works of art derived from manufactured objects. Why did you choose to explore these techniques?

Having had no formal art education [Pedro Hernandez studied sociology], I was once again interested in the materials and items that constitute a 'home'. While working on this exhibition, I browsed through hardware and home supplies stores rather than art supplies shops to find inspiration. I'm fascinated by shapes or textures that trigger my imagination.

For instance, the coffee table that I created is made from polyurethane foam, a material that's commonly used for cushioning in bedding and other furniture.

The sculptures that are going to be exhibited were made using carpets and upholstery. I want all my work to convey a sense of 'comfiness' that is related to the idea of the home as a nest.

For me, the light installations were experiments. I was eager to add a site-specific aspect to the exhibition, by creating new works that are engaged in a dialogue with the gallery space, mixing artistic and pop cultural references. I'm inspired by James Turrell's psychedelic backdrops that were used in a Drake music video. When you design or build a home, you always rip off visual elements that you've seen elsewhere.

How did you come to exhibit in Bangkok?

I met Unchalee Anantawat, Speedy Grandma's co-founder, earlier this year in Taiwan. We had a long discussion about my research and practice, which involved the creation of objects and settings to counter the feeling of being 'uprooted', but which I never considered as 'art' before.

Unchalee subsequently invited me to progress in that direction and offered to host my solo exhibition at Speedy Grandma. I really appreciate her energy and Speedy Grandma's philosophy of providing a space for new artists to experiment and grow.

What does the title of your exhibition 'No Measure Of Time With You Will Be Long Enough. But Let's Start With Forever' refer to?

It's a title that comes from a romantic teen movie [box office hit Twilight] that was suggested to me. I'm not afraid to use this reference, as the sentence sums up the feeling of infatuation that one has when beginning a new relationship, building a new home. While it is constantly living and evolving, a home is also a measure of time, as well as a measure of love.

What reaction do you hope to get from visitors?

I'm very shy, so perhaps I will blend in with the audience and observe people's reactions. I'm not sure yet whether to call myself an artist, so I've decided to repaint the gallery walls in different colours, so the exhibition has a more relaxed and homely feeling than if it were in a white cube.

Pedro Hernandez's exhibition being installed at Speedy Grandma. Photo: courtesy of Unchalee Anantawat