Alejandro Aguilera, About the Modern Spirit
February 18–May 20, 2012
Atlanta-based Aguilera’s drawings include portraits of artists and other historical figures whom he considers inspirations and heroes.
Black Drawing (Picasso Under Water), 2005Black Drawing (Picasso Under Water), 2005
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) is recognized for pioneering the radical modern art form known as Cubism, but throughout his extensive career Picasso’s work addressed and responded to many of the artistic debates occurring across Europe and in the United States. Picasso created a vast body of work, ranging from some of the twentieth century’s most important paintings, sculptures, and drawings to ceramic decorative arts to costume and set design for theater. He embodied the idea of the virtuosic artist-hero at the center of Aguilera’s group of portraits.
Alejandro Aguilera, Black Drawing (Picasso Under Water), 2005, Collage, ink, and crayon on paper, Purchase with the Lambert Fund
Louise Bourgeois: Portrait of the Young Artist, 2011Louise Bourgeois: Portrait of the Young Artist, 2011
Although Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) is primarily known as a sculptor, she began her career as a painter, drawing inspiration from the work of the French Surrealists as well as the later Abstract Expressionists in New York, mirroring her own life as a French immigrant living in New York in the early twentieth century. Her abstract, organic sculptures are evocative of human forms and were often produced from wood, rubber, stone, and bronze—materials that were considered inherently masculine and uncharacteristic for a woman artist at the time.
Alejandro Aguilera, Louise Bourgeois: Portrait of the Young Artist, 2011, Mixed media on paper, Courtesy of the artist and Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta
Black Drawing (Constantin Brancusi), 2011Black Drawing (Constantin Brancusi), 2011
Here Aguilera sites sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876–1957) as a major source of inspiration for his work. Aguilera admires Brancusi’s radical innovations as a sculptor and points out what he considers to be one of Brancusi’s most significant contributions to modern art: “he changed forever the traditional idea of using the pedestal . . . transforming the part into the whole sculpture, it was a revolutionary idea.”
Alejandro Aguilera, Black Drawing (Constantin Brancusi), 2011, Coffee, ink, and graphite on paper, Courtesy of the artist and Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta
About the Modern Spirit presents 30 drawings created between 1998 and 2011 by Atlanta-based Alejandro Aguilera. These works reveal his technical skill and versatility in the use of various materials, such as crayon, tempera, collage, ink, coffee, and graphite on paper.
The drawings include portraits of artists and other historical figures whom Aguilera considers inspirations and heroes—individuals whose accomplishments have changed the way we look at the world.
Aguilera says that, metaphorically, the drawings represent “a step toward modernism—a journey toward that moment in which took place the contact between the so-called ‘primitive cultures’ and the expansionists from the Western world.”
The drawings are installed salon-style, hung close together in a tight cluster, in order to summon the creative environment of the artist’s studio and to reveal the lively discourse among Aguilera’s subjects and themes.
Alejandro Aguilera (born 1964) was trained in both the United States and in his native Cuba and now lives and works in Atlanta. In addition to being an exquisite draftsman, Aguilera is also a prolific painter and sculptor. Aguilera cites a wide range of influences, from historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Mahatma Gandhi to the artistic impact of African sculpture, Modern art, as well as vernacular Southern art. His work contains strong references to the history of modernism and imagery of what he describes as “so-called primitive cultures.” He has exhibited internationally and his works have been acquired by numerous public and private collections worldwide.