I created this art as a visual meditation. Every piece has a focal point that engages the sense of sight and draws the viewer into a “fourth dimensional” journey through the layers of the painting. Some pieces have literally hundreds of layers; although you are looking at a two dimensional painting, it was created in a three dimensional digital plane.
My art is mixed media expressed in a digital format. I create them from my own photographs, modified layer upon layer. One picture might have as many as two or three hundred layers. Digital technology is the closest I can get to replicating the power and 'life' of the colour I experienced. When I am creating I seem to go into another space and have a strong sense of pulling the essence of the image from that place into this one. I know the image is complete when I feel it; I believe they each have their own life and energy.
One of the primary reasons I wanted to share this visual journey is that I wanted to try to share the sense of well-being, peace and connection I experienced on the other side. On January 6th, 2000, I had a near death experience. I was in hospital after an accident at work and I unexpectedly found myself in respiratory distress. I died at 2am for just over three minutes and once again that night for just over two minutes. I had never previously had any kind of religious or spiritual inclinations and I fought for my life with every ounce of energy I could muster. However, I found myself in the most beautiful place and it was very painful for me to leave there and return. My art is my attempt to capture and recreate the beauty, vibrancy, and tranquility of the 'living' colours I saw on the other side and share the experience of connection and transformation with others.
For some people, on hearing my story and viewing the art, the experience takes away the uncertainty and fear of death, inviting them into the mystery from a place of safety and love. For me there is no longer a fear of death. The Spirit of who we truly are never dies. My body died and stayed in ICU. I watched the doctors struggle to revive me. My Soul moved on to the other side to have the experiences I had, to then choose to come back. It truly is the most loving beautiful place we go. One realizes the choices we have here and what a privilege it is to be here every single day. Each breath is precious, each seemingly small, insignificant action is more important that you might imagine. Our lives have meaning and purpose in the grand cosmic scheme; we are miracles, each one of us, here on earth.
I have done quite a lot of research subsequent to my dying experience into how colour and art affect people and how modern medicine is now beginning to re-integrate art into the healing arena. Science is investigating how the frequencies of light waves in the colour spectrum affect the physical, mental and emotional body. I am approaching this from the perspective of my own journey and am attempting to share the healing quality of colour and light that I am so grateful to have experienced. I was in hospital in a critical care unit for 3 months with every doctor telling me that I would not make it out alive. When I did finally leave I was told I had, at most, 2-3 years to live. That experience was 20 years ago. Since then my lungs have recovered to a large extent and my cardiologist used to tell me at every check up that he never understood how I left the hospital.
“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”
I believe one of the main reasons that I was able to survive that experience is because I would escape from my hospital room by remembering the living colours. The colours I had seen and that memory of love I felt on the other side, without any visual aid and take myself back into that space. In that space I found some escape from the stress and pain of my condition and relief from the fear and anxiety my prognosis held. That ‘soul flight’ and relief, simply, is what I am trying to capture in some small way and share with everyone; that opportunity to escape to a safe and healing space, even if just for a few moments, enabling our body and spirit to renew, replenish and find a measure of peace.
Prior to that experience I had been an electrical engineer with a passion for photography for over 20 years; I always had a keen awareness of light, colour and movement and a knack for composition. I grew up in the South Bronx in the 50's and 60's. Our family had very little money. I didn't have art training, I definitely didn't see myself as an artist. My educational background is in electrical engineering which was a field I did not feel an affinity for. However, I see now how these life paths have come together to form the foundation on which I now stand. Although my art form is now very different, I can see how my life's journey is reflected in my art: it is still always and only about light, colour and movement.It is difficult for me to put into words the feeling of utter love and complete safety I felt on my journey, but that is my desire, to try to bring a taste of that love, joy and peace, through the portal of my paintings, into the lives and homes of the people that experience them here.
- Jose Hernandez