Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rodrigo Aguilera

Rodrigo Aguileara "Ode to Vermeer" acrylic on paper, paper size 22"x 30" re-post of my article in August 2012

D. M. Allison gallery livens up its walls with the colorful paintings of Rodrigo Aguilera. The show, titled "The Ode to Beauty," references past masters and also presents some of his portrait work. I was reminded of the small rectangle shapes that make images in the paintings of Dallas artist Gary Perrone or maybe Chuck Close with his current series, where he makes several small paintings on a canvas to make a large portrait. Artists since Seurat have been making images with small bits of information to create a full picture, but Rodrigo Aguilera has distinguished himself with his style and subject matter.

Before I get into why I think the work says something, let me just say that Aguilera’s colors are bright, cheerful, and just plain exciting to see. I felt uplifted by these richly colored squares and circles. The portraits were attractive and well rendered, thus my Chuck Close comparison, but I was extremely excited to see Aguilera recreating old master works in a familiar style of our time. This challenge from the past has been missing from most artists in this generation, because the cult of originality has left us with few artists willing to mine the past for new ideas. Aguilera is also following a long tradition of artists that made copies of past masters with fresh perspectives. Rembrandt would copy a portrait pose from Raphael but update the style of painting.

Picasso also updated works by Goya. So, when I saw Aguilera updating Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid,” I was intrigued with his approach to bring this old work forward into our time. Aguilera’s update is to use the digital pixelated style similar to 1980’s computer game graphics or like Shawn Smith’s sculptures which use individual blocks to create the computer generated look. By using this style, Aguilera is re-imagining these old paintings while breathing fresh life and conversation around the work.

Rodrigo Aguilera’s portraits are in the tradition of Pop art. He is taking famous people’s photos and then converting them into his style of painting. Maybe because I have seen so many rehash photography, I was a little disappointed with the paintings of faces. Don’t get me wrong, the paintings looked great, however, I wish he had stuck to the theme of past master work, after all there are plenty of those portraits he could reinterpret through his paintings. The show runs through August 25th. for more images.

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