Contributed by Sharon Butler / Farley Aguilar’s paintings, on view at Lyles & King, are based on vintage photographs of 1920s and ‘30s seaside beauty pageants and images of female Nazi collaborators having their heads shaved after World War II. The contrast is jarring at first but fits into an insightfully integrated sense of powerlessness in the face of cruel political upheaval and human objectification across a broad spectrum of circumstances.
On close examination, the images suggest that Aguilar, who is self-taught, sketches them in pencil on the canvas and then scribbles crudely around the pencil lines with oil sticks and paint. The drawing provides rough structure for each scene, but it is the color, garish and calibrated to shrill, that carries the screamingly urgent emotional content. Aguilar channels the same faux-comic despair of Nicole Eisenman, Peter Saul, and George Condo but with less focus on expanding traditional painterly chops. Collectively, the nine large-scale canvases constitute an unsettling spectacle of how callously, even monstrously, human beings behave.
From the press release: Farley Aguilar (b. 1980, Nicaragua) lives and works in Miami, FL. Recent exhibitions include “Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of the Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art,” The Mennello Museum, Orlando, US and “We are the people. Who are you?,” Edel Assanti, London, UK. His work is in the collections of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Brown University, and the Orlando Museum of Art. Aguilar is represented by Lyles & King.
“Farley Aguilar: Cleansing,” Lyles & King, LES, New York, NY. Through February 24, 2019.