Alejandro Aguilera

Between the Sculpted Nostalgia and the Rebelliousness of the Line

/ 1 June, 2016

“Without the contamination of memory”—unavoidably contaminated—the reconstructions of one work and an artist “escaped from a given history”[1], which persist on the idea of oblivion, are erected. These unconnected memories dwell on a great part of Cuban creators from the generation of the 1980s of the past century, especially those who migrated rejecting the option of the reunion. But again circumstances surprise us and we end safe when we try to save them, as Ortega y Gasset sentenced. Even by opposition, the references to the Cuban context, its politics, society and the components of its culture are not so easily detached from the self-referential remainders the artist ends up imprinting to his work. Then we discover that behind the apparent truce there is an entire productive nostalgia tending to rebelliousness.

Alejandro Aguilera (Holguin, Cuba, 1964) was part of that large wave of artists who transferred their life and career out of the geographic limits of the island when “simulating was (is) not such a splendorous game”[2] and verifying reality discouraged spontaneous action.

(…) As most of the artists from that generation, Aguilera developed a type of consubstantial work with plastic treatments in a formal, occasionally hurtful, harshness. He graduated in the specialty of Sculpture in the High Institute of Arts (ISA) on 1989 and, on this experience, he produced tridimensional-installative works, generally made in wood although integrating everything that might be convenient. These works, apart from questioning and forcing the limits of the means themselves in their apparent traditionalism, problematized the processes of idealization of historical personalities and religious expressions (…)

(…) More than a decade ago he has worked in a series entitled Black Drawings, composed by dozens of papers with hundreds of scribbles and mental images which, at the beginning, the artist considered as a “form of liberating energies in a new space (support) or as a rather big self-help exercise”. The presence of color does not make them “less black”, the turbulent movement his lines describe reminds De Kooning expressionism and the superimposition of stories, portraits and Freudian elements that not only quote the episodes of an European surrealism, but also the elements of a present intending to reconstruct the omens of a past. The artist devotes his drawings to intellectuals and creators from the global sphere, with which he feels identified, and construes them in a personalized way, consequent with some traces of the artistic style characterizing them, but with Aguilera’s seal.

(…) He is recently working on a group of drawings coming from the language of journalistic caricature, which allows him to make more immediate and direct critical comments. From February 25 to April 8 this year, he held the solo show Seriously Funny: Political Cartoons and Illustrations, in Swan Coach House Gallery, where he showed 83 drawings which frequently refer to the absurdity of modern life and more, in publications from The New Yorker to Mad Magazine. They deal about gay marriages, the Islamic war, Donald Trump’s political campaign, the position Cuba has taken with Obama’s visit, Cuban migration and other topics of a more general kind as: human limits and incapacities, the potentiality and overvaluation in social relations, violence, racism, persistent class differences, hegemonies, freedom… (…)

[1]  These phrases have been taken from conversations with the artist though e-mail, when he resisted returning to the past.

[2] Sánchez, Osvaldo. “Utopía bajo el volcán. La vanguardia cubana en México.” (Utopia under the Volcano. Cuban Vanguard in Mexico). In: Antología de textos críticos: El Nuevo Arte Cubano. (Anthology of critical texts: The New Cuban Art). Compilation: Magaly Espinosa and Kevin Power. Perceval Press, California, 2006, p. 63.

Claudia Taboada Churchman

Claudia Taboada Churchman

Havana, 1990. Art critic and curator. She currently works in Villa Manuela Gallery. Her texts have been published in ArteCubano, Revolución y Cultura, La Jiribilla, Noticias de ArteCubano, among others. In 2015 she received the Curatorial Award granted by the Center for the Development of Visual Arts for the project Pintura expandida.

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