SEEING EVERYTHING: NOTES ON RAUL AGUILAR’S PAINTINGS
“Imagine the amazing good fortune of the generation that gets to see the end of the world. This is as marvelous as being there at the beginning.”
Jean Baudrillard, Fragments: Cool Memories III, 1990-1995
“I am known as the Watcher. My sworn task is to observe and chronicle great events within this sector of the universe. My curse is to always witness and never participate. I must be true to this duty even on the brink of Armageddon.”
Uatu, the Watcher, Marvel Comics
What does a painter paint at the end of the world? This seems to be a central question for Raúl Aguilar, who makes paintings that are deliciously coloured and kaleidoscopic, but full of foreboding. In the face of this challenge, the artist offers explicit instructions. “Elevate away from the present and see from above, as a fly, with 6000 eyes. Dissolve the ego into an archival consciousness and fade away personal anxiety. Just be Zen.” So, what is required is openness, detachment and discipline. You have to become a yogi, a seer.
A master of many styles, Aguilar creates funny envelopes of pictorial space that allow him to play hide and seek with an idiosyncratic lexicon. The overt symbolism of Mussolini’s pulverized corpse, chains, gun barrels and perspiring eyeballs mingle with pinwheels, topological views, heraldry, architecture and psychedelic flow charts. Freely mixing scale and the spectacular with the minor key, Aguilar’s images strategically grouped together on a wall have a way of worming into your psyche and transporting you.
Full of embedded clues and allusions, the paintings have compelled me to track down a nobleman’s portrait in the Prado, Google an esoteric Dutch Post-Impressionist, brush up on Marvel Comics. Interestingly, they have also sent me back to the writings of Carlos Castañeda. Is this due to Aguilar’s own Mexican heritage, a sense of mystical, desert imagery in some canvases, the heightened visuality and interconnected webs in the work or my own obsession with the Don Juan books and Latin American Magic Realism in general?
More than anything else, I am interested in an artist’s depth of purpose. A romantic by nature, it has to do with how much a painter or painting possesses heart, soul, vision, whatever you want to call it. The most oft-quoted line from Castañeda’s Don Juan is “Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart?”
So, is Raúl Aguilar a hip, young painter dealing in scatter-shot imagery of our culture in decline or is he closer to a 21st Century Yaqui shaman providing us with maps into ourselves? Perhaps the answer to that depends as much on what path you are on, as on what path Aguilar is on.
- David Elliott
Raúl Aguilar is a Mexican born artist based in Montreal whose main work explores painting as a post-medium practice. He holds a Bachelor in International Relations from Universidad de las Américas, Puebla (2011) as well as a Bachelor in Studio Art from Concordia University (2014). His work has been exhibited in Montreal, Puebla, and Cuernavaca (Mexico). In his first solo show presented at Centre CLARK, I’ll Teach My Kids How To Be Aesthetically Correct, Raúl continues his examination of the discipline of painting through a wide range of styles and genres.
The artist would like to thank Marcela Borquez, David Bellemare, Marcelino Barsi, Marx Ruiz Wilson, Matthieu Bouchard, Pier-Anne Mercier, Oswaldo Salazar, David Jaime, Abraham Mercado, Alina Canela, and Juan Antonio Aguilar.
- Raúl Aguilar Canela
NOVEMBER 2 TO DECEMBER 9, 2017
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 8PM
ARTIST TALK /
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 3PM