Colors explosions, sports icons and Argentine DNA: welcome to the magical world of this South American artist

“Argentina is a huge country, you travel between crowded places like my city, Buenos Aires, and pristine natural scenery. Chaos and quiet alternate. Beauty and movement come together. You have to adapt in order to survive and find the right balance. These dualisms translate into my work, where the images are static but seem to move. That’s why I like to work on sports themes and subjects, because they allow me to sublimate these thoughts.”

Bernardo Henning’s creativity transcends the laws of physics, jumping between South American colors and sports icons. In the graphic works of this Argentine artist, static nature is magically turned into dynamism, unleashing the kinetic force of each photographic portrait. WNBA, Argentine Selección, Nike and Giannis Antetokounmpo are just some of the visual canvases that Bernardo’s mind has decided to animate: they’re processes that this La Plata native but Buenos Aires resident has cultivated among football logos, street art and sports passions.

I’ve always loved to draw. I remember with some classmates we used to spend hours sketching cars and recreating brand logos related to skate culture. Then I discovered art history and my mind expanded: during those years I understood that graphic design would be my path. I’ve always been skateboarding, but football is also an eternal passion of mine. As a kid I was obviously fascinated by team logos. Although I was a Boca fan, I was in love with the Lanús logo and its typographic features. These influences later turned into street art and into the production of stickers that I began to show around the city. In Buenos Aires everything is communication and I started communicating with stylized characters, not graffiti. Working in the streets allowed me to get in touch with the graphic design studio Dogma, where I started my career, and with some incredible street artists-I’m thinking for example of the London Police, Pes, and Julian, known as Chu. These artists were real stars to me; I constantly had the feeling that I was in the right place at the right time…. That was a perfect starting point.”

If graphic production is a divertissement turned profession, sport in Bernardo’s daily life is a cornerstone turned therapy. Basketball, football, tennis, rugby and futsal games punctuate this Argentine’s days, giving him aesthetic influences and mental relief. The sports element is something you can enjoy in every step of your life, Bernardo confides, telling us about the innate link between the athletic universe and design, and introducing us to an artistic philosophy painted in bright colors and iconic images.

Everything in my life revolves around sports, even my artistic philosophy. The design is there, in every jersey, in every cap connected to major American sports. The movement is there, in every action, in athletes like Facundo Campazzo, my favorite basketball player. I try to create illustrations that people can love, I use vivid and powerful colors to increase the impact of each image. Over the years I’ve learned what it means to produce something iconic. I do what I like, because I know that audiences, brands and companies can appreciate it too. When I have time and am not busy with commissioned assignments, I do things that I truly love, because I know they can be functional for my work, they can attract people. Working on the photographic element isn’t difficult, the images just call to me and I know I’ve to do something with them. I see a portrait and the final work instantly appears in my mind. Then after a short time I complete the digital collage. It’s a natural process, and is giving me the opportunity to work with various sports companies and institutions, such as the WNBA and ESPN, or the Argentine Women’s National Team. Argentina contacted me in order to produce contents related to the away kit for the upcoming World Cup. I’m proud of this work for the Selección and I’m happy, because I had the opportunity to animate a jersey inspired by our mountains and nature. Now I’m involved in another big football project, you’ll discover it in a few weeks…”

In a few years we’ll instead find out Bernardo’s destiny. One of his recent works introduces this theme, the words “The worst thing that happened to me as an artist is being a graphic designer”. Words that combine the irony and frustration of a hybrid condition, of a precarious balance, yet consolidated by market logic, rising fame, and collaborations with international fashion brands. Because graphic design has shaped the aesthetic pillars of this Argentine creative and his working career, but today the artistic dimension is overwhelmingly stealing the scene, outlining a future devoted to the purest muse.

“This sentence started as a simple note on IG and immediately elicited so many reactions among my colleagues. A few months ago I had my first solo exhibition in Madrid and decided to display it. That catchphrase starts a conversation every time because it’s shocking, ironic and realistic. I’d like to make 100 percent artistic works, but I feel like I can’t do that because of all the theoretical notions I learned with graphic design. I’m not really free. At the same time graphic design forces you to communicate something, it’s a professional necessity. Art doesn’t impose that. I find myself in the middle, and it’s a complex condition. I’ve learned that I’ve to compromise and, at the same time, stay true to my artistic vision, even in commissioned work. It’s not easy. That’s why I see my future directed toward the artistic universe. I know that there will come a point when I’ll get tired of working for brands and, above all, I will not want to repeat myself: that will be the moment when I’ll have accomplished all the collaborations I’ve always dreamed of. I’m young and I still have a lot of energy, but as an old man I imagine myself painting huge canvas in a vast, brightly lit room…. I just hope to do what will make me feel good.”

Photo Credits: Bernardo Henning
Text by Gianmarco Pacione