Round and amiable, the characters in Miguel Hernández’s Cadena Black gambol along like inflated carnival balloons—space them well lest they float away. But their levity is strictly proverbial; Cadena Black is a significant contribution to the collection of digitally rendered hand-painted signs, and the first of Chilean origin: both the model, and the designer. Hernández drew inspiration from lettering craftsman Juan Cadena, and specifically his signs for the bus system in Santiago, Chile in the 1990s.
Although Cadena’s work was ubiquitous and popular at the time, few recognized it as vernacular art until 2006, when a new transportation system replaced the hand-rendered signs with uniform sans serifs. Hernández’s Cadena Black offers the characters posthumous fame in his 2007 creation, and the low-waisted capital As and Rs, especially, keep its buoyant spirit sensibly grounded. ANNA MALSBERGER