Portrait of Miguel Hernández Bastos in his studio.
May 5, 2024 0 Artist Spotlight Belinda

Introduction: Revolutionary Art Techniques

Miguel Hernández Bastos is a distinguished Costa Rican artist who embraces revolutionary art techniques. His oeuvre encompasses a variety of mediums, including pencil, charcoal, acrylic paint, and a particularly intriguing use of smoke from an oil lamp. Through his work, Hernández Bastos delves into the intricacies of the human form, exploring themes of metamorphosis and the fleeting nature of existence. What sets his art apart is his adept weaving of historical symbolism from the candle in Renaissance portraiture into his canvases. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Explore Hernández Bastos' work on MÍRAME Fine Art. Follow MÍRAME on Instagram | Facebook Visit Hernández Bastos' website. Follow Anaskina on Instagram | Facebook ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Artwork showing innovative art techniques by Miguel Hernández Bastos, featuring dancing, wistful figures dancing across the canvas, painted with smoke on canvas. Miguel Hernández Bastos, Danza Efiemera, 2023, Smoke on canvas

Mediums and Techniques

“The candle has that ephemeral sense of the volatile.” Hernández Bastos embraces experimentation, using the unconventional medium of smoke from an oil lamp as he burns the smoke directly onto the canvas, like pigment. He secures the canvas above his head while he stands underneath, moving the lamp rhythmically, like a paint brush. Sometimes he paints purely in smoke, creating black and white monochromatic pieces. Other times, he applies oil paint over the smoke, incorporating colour and layering with more depth. Hernández Bastos' revolutionary art techniques involve painting with an oil lamp to infuse his paintings with complexity and mystery, capturing the essence of human fragility in a unique way.

Themes and Symbolism

The use of the oil lamp is steeped in rich historical symbolism, conjuring the image of the candle used in Renaissance portraiture. While Hernández Bastos's paintings exude contemporary essence, they also evoke nostalgia for a bygone era when oil lamps illuminated daily life, with his masterful contrasts of light and dark reminiscent of the warm glow cast by candles in traditional homes. Navigating between the human and the mechanical, Hernández Bastos intertwines figures that fuse and move collectively across the canvas. His figures hold a delicate transience inherent in human forms coupled with a futuristic essence, where they assume a robotic appearance. This interplay dances between eroticism, tenderness and feelings of isolation, dependence and feelings of loss. His wistful, delicate shapes formed from an oil lamp, have haunting connotations of burning, evoking the duality of creation and destruction.

Style and Aesthetic

Hernández Bastos's artistic style and revolutionary art techniques are unmistakably his own, characterised by a distinctive interplay of light and shadow. His "Abrazos" series, characterised by strict monochromatic palettes, offers poignant simplicity. These works feature two figures entwined in embrace, their forms merging into one, evoking a sense of unity and intimacy. Figures emerge from the canvas with an otherworldly presence, their forms seemingly suspended in a state of perpetual motion. painting of the Abrazo series showing revolutionary art techniques of Miguel Hernández Bastos, featuring two figures holding each other, painted in smoke on canvas. Miguel Hernández Bastos, Abrazo I, 2023, Smoke on canvas Similarly, his large-scale paintings, such as "Secuencia Del Movimiento", feature multiple figures with great energy and movement that collectively dance across the canvas. These pieces reference artists in the early 20th Century who experimented with capturing movement in their figure paintings. For example, Marcel Duchamp painted Nude Descending A Staircase which portrays multiple depictions of the same person going down the stairs. In other pieces, such as Secuencia del Tiempo, Hernández Bastos applies oil paint over the smoke, layering colour into his figures to create depth and to elevate their presence on the canvas. Painting showing the revolutionary art techniques of Miguel Hernandez Bastos, featuring dancing figures painted in smoke and oil on canvas. Miguel Hernández Bastos, Illuminacion, 2023, smoke and oil on canvas Aside from his figurative pieces, Hernández Bastos also produces evocative landscapes as well as large-scale circles, such as "Circulo del Tiempo", which are inspired by Zen art, ensō and Japanese calligraphy, and symbolise illumination, strength and the vast concept of emptiness. Painting showing the revolutionary art techniques of Miguel Hernandez Bastos, featuring a large circle painted in smoke on canvas. Miguel Hernández Bastos, Circulo del Tiempo, 2022, Smoke on canvas

Philosophical Underpinnings

Hernández Bastos's work grapples with fundamental questions of existence, exploring themes of creation and destruction, impermanence, and the human experience of pain and insecurity. The haunting shapes conjured by the smoke from his oil lamp speak to the ephemeral nature of life, reminding viewers of the transitory beauty inherent in all things.


A graduate of the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York and a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship, Hernández Bastos’ talent has been recognized and celebrated on both national and international stages. As a professor of drawing at the School of Art and Visual Communication at the National University, Hernández Bastos' revolutionary art techniques continue to inspire and mentor the next generation of artists. His numerous accolades, including the National Drawing Prize and representation of Costa Rica at the XLVII International Art Biennale in Venice, Italy, stand as a testament to his enduring legacy. In a world that often feels ephemeral and uncertain, Hernández Bastos's art serves as a beacon of beauty and meaning, inviting viewers to pause, reflect, and find solace in the timeless truths it embodies.


Born in Costa Rica, 1961 Lives and works in Heredia, Costa Rica Download his CV here.

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