I‘ve been following the work of Farley Aguilar since he began showing in Miami with Carol Jazzar. From blotchy little ink studies, one featuring a female deer tantalizingly flashing its vagina across a sea of molten lava, to larger, more ambitious, but equally bizarre works on canvas, Aguilar’s paintings, while their content is ever more intriguing, continue to satisfy on a very immediate, dare I say visceral, level.
Although there are many notable artists in Miami working with paint and ‘the painting’, for some reason it feels like we have a distinct lack of them. When I last spoke about Aguilar in May of last year in a post that sought to venerate self taught artists I was truthfully very afraid he was going to get sucked to death or that I would be turned off by some fleeting tangent. Happily, neither of these fears won out.
Someone commented at the opening of his recent show The Fates at Spinello Gallery that Aguilar’s work is similar to that of Hernan Bas if Hernan Bas were straight and took lots of acid. Throw a reverence for the macabre and a penchant for zombie movies into the mix and I think you might have a match! But this post isn’t about categorizing a practice, cutting it apart to understand it and maybe losing it on the table in the process. If anything, its about me really liking the work. Have a look at these:
“Ulf hands” 2010
“The Night of the Hunter” 2010
Perhaps its a personal bias toward painting, a wistful pining to revisit a choice in my past that resulted in a major in printmaking that I have since regretted, but I find myself unconditionally drawn to these exploratory daubs. The subject matter from work to work is not my concern given that it is generally appropriated and/or tempered with some kind of palatable weirdness, and as such I am not going to speak specifically about this show. What stands out as a defining factor for me is the way in which Aguilar paints. He paints stories, truthfully, but unlike a lot of narrative painting you can enjoy the paint on its own and the story. There is mystery in his brush marks. You have to look through them to find the forms and the different ways they come into play. This way of painting fits the given theme, a relationship forged by Aguilar’s ability to meld painting style and subject as though they were subtleties of light. There is a recognizable class about his work, it emulates work that was contemporary along time ago and this underscores it. And while Aguilar’s hand appears notably less polished than it could be, in many ways his work seems more like an accomplished painter trying to hide his brilliance, than the reality we are led to believe of a gifted painter establishing himself. Given the attempt to affect terror, creepiness and gore, however, in comparison to Goya, James Ensor and even Ben Shahn, for example, they are still a little tame and perhaps not threatening enough. That said, considering Miami is only just getting this style I think we should venerate the artist and vilify the city before we get swept away by a surrealist revival.
“The Roamers” 2010
The Fates, definitely one of Spinello Gallery’s better shows, which again is as much a criticism of the gallery as it is a compliment to the artist, closed this past week. For more information please visit www.spinellogallery.com
This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth