In true pioneer spirit Anthony Spinello has moved West…well, west of Wynwood and the first show to inaugurate the new space is Farley Aguilar’s “Americana”.
The brand new 3000 square-foot Spinello Projects space, now housed in a two-floor converted 1940s warehouse is “destined to become the new playground for unorthodox and experimental artists,” explains Spinello, adding that he wants to progress “the gallery’s primary mission of initiating groundbreaking change in Miami's cultural landscape and beyond.”
Farley Aguilar’s work is somewhat unorthodox as it confronts American culture, tensions in society and the terrors of extreme violence in lynch mobs or individuals who turn into killers. The work depicts the struggle of the American psyche and explores violence, destruction, anxiety, socialization as well as the pressures in modern society. The Nicaraguan self-taught painter explains, "There is a very tense relationship between individuals and the society, community, or subculture they belong to. Even though the paintings are dated by a historical period, they show traces of their past and point to the future."
At first glance the bright colors Aguilar favors make his paintings appear happy. Upon further consideration the grotesque and disfigured faces of his characters show their true colors and a sense of danger seems imminent. Some of the people depicted in Aguilar’s paintings wear hoods and bear arms. All of them wear the masks of socialization. Everyone appears to play a role, often the appropriate role expected in the respective situation. The wearing of those masks allows groups or society to function yet it creates tensions as it prevents individuals from expressing their emotions, and true individuality is compromised for the sake of the entity.
“Every human being has to interact with other human beings. You can think a certain way but when you are out in a certain place you have to act in a certain way, you have to be in a certain guise. When you are in a certain mask and protected, it is also a protection against death and to non-exist. If everyone else does it you feel protected, you feel comfortable. You fit in. If you don’t do it it‘s psychologically very difficult”
Aguilar is interested in the dichotomy between individual and society and between a wanting to belong and the rebellion against absorption into a group and loss of individuality. The irony is that individuals bearing the tensions of conformity can act out violently yet the ones who are not socialized “correctly” and who do not conform to the rules of any given society can cause violence and disruption as well.
Says Aguilar, “In the American context being an individual and being part of society whether it be any party or group, there is a frustration. It is a back and forth between two things, which creates violence, tension, disturbing acts. I think I focus on the disturbing acts, the frustration.”
He gives the example of the recent shooting in Colorado as the kind of scenario similar to the tensions within his paintings. Someone can just explode and the disturbing ways those individuals act out their frustrations is what Aguilar explores deeply. Yet, his paintings are by no means a literal interpretation of specific events. Aguilar is interested in the human psyche, societal structures and their implications for the individual. He uses German Expressionism with a “social ambiance in American style” to express his artistic impressions of contemporary realities.
Aguilar’s art may be harsh and disturbing but an intuitive quality lends the work a relevance that is undeniable. The darker side of humanity shows in his paintings. Few act upon it but the ones that do tend to do so with extreme violence, disregard for human life and often in extremely disturbing ways. Recently Aguilar has taken to incorporate Xs into his paintings to mark individuals. The Xs have various meanings depending on the work and context but have a negative connotation as a common denominator. Aguilar often uses the Xs to convey ignorance or an absence of the ability to communicate. As the Xs cover eyes, ears and mouth the marked individual can’t see, can’t hear or can’t speak.
Farley Aguilar’s paintings in “Americana” are a commentary on American society that, albeit artistic, should initiate a discourse on American culture and its fascination with violence.
“Americana” runs until October 6th, 2012 at Spinello Projects, 2930 NW 7th Avenue, Miami, 33127