Ticking our hero off, v.1
Resin polychrome, 16 x 10 x 21 cm, 2011
By Tom Hermansen MA (History of Art), Art Critic
Javier Aguilera was born in 1969 under the brutal boot heels of general Franco’s rule. He grew up in Madrid, watching democracy take shape and receiving undiluted shots of newly won Spanish freedom and vitality directly into his young veins. And freedom is precisely what his work reflects. Looking east and west, he uses everything that catches his fancy. In the west, he has found artists such as Americans Duane Hanson and John de Andrea, whose sculptures in the 1960s reintroduced the powerfully realistic human figure. In the east, he has watched over the shoulders of Japanese artists, and the bubbling manga comic tradition is very clear, especially in his most recent work. He also draws inspiration from Spanish history – with Francisco Goya’s horrifying pictures of war andexecutions as an obvious reference.
But Javier Aguilera’s most important reference is the present; his eyes are wide with curiosity, taking in all the people moving around him.
He translates the energy that is the hallmark of his working method into his figures. They live in the no-man’s land between introverted stillness and extrovert confrontation. Between silence and noise. We never know the specific story, as the people reveal only part of the trouble. So we don’t know who they are fighting. Who they are provoking. Who they are shouting at. Who they are making fun of. Who they are playing up to.
These people are testing the limits, and some observers are sure to think they cross the line with their strong, almost brutal realism. You’re not sure if you dare lift the miniskirt to see the masked girl’s exposed abdomen. And you don’t quite know if you dare approach the dark and partially undressed femme fatale with the arrow buried deep in her side. This titillating confrontation is the core of Javier Aguilera’s work. Not only in his sculptures but also in his drawings and paintings. The author Umberto Eco calls this the poetry of open work. In other words, that the interpretation – the experience of the work of art – takes place in the person standing in front of it. The work therefore has no tangible core for us to find.
the experience of art is an event that plays out again and again between the work and the individual observer. It is a bodily experience. In other words, your clash with Javier Aguilera’s bloody, drooling abattoir dogs is not the same as mine. The question is not so much what Javier Aguilera’s figures are, but what they do.