“Chunks”: The essence of experience by Herman Aguirre

Emerging Chicago artist is featured in UW-Parkside Fountain Gallery  



This fall, the UW–Parkside Foundation Gallery has been hosting the work of Herman Aguirre, an emerging artist from Chicago. The opening reception for the exhibit, “Chunks”,’ was Sept. 12 and will be on view until Oct 16.

Emerging artist

“Chunks” is a collection of oil paintings, half of which Aguirre describes as autobiographical and half of which he describes as a commentary on contemporary events and culture. The subject matter spans from personal, daily life in Chicago to disturbing, historical incidents in various cities in Mexico. Aguirre’s aim is clearly communicated in his public artist statement and executed in mission: “Through the various techniques and applications, I try and capture the essence of experience.”

Crafting chaos

The exhibit pieces are intensely textured, characterized by copious layers of oil paint gouged out and spread bluntly to shape somewhat tenebrous portraits and depictions of severely traumatic events. Both the application of the media and the content of the pieces point to the raw, tactile chaos of each situation or subject. The gritty mounds of material bring the brutality of emotional pain to surface, as if to name the intangible by a malleable flesh of color and consistency.

Considering the omitted

After viewing the collection, Andre Perez, a Senior at UW–Parkside said,  “I could feel a sense of being trapped, stuck in a certain lifestyle or situation. It was grimy and held evidence of a lot of unfortunate crime. If I could describe the exhibit in three words, they would be gray, struggle and rush.” Another student, Alyssa Goroski, a UW–Parkside English major, responded to the work saying, “It was interesting because in some instances it was less about what stood out of the painting and more about what failed to stand out in the painting. It drew attention to what was missing. What comes to my mind, overall, is a sad nostalgia—looking at the events and people portrayed, lots of things were dead or dying…but there was a certain amount of reverence for whatever those things were.”

Drug consumption and cartel

Although not stated explicitly, several of the non-autobiographical works depict the effects of drugs on communities, not only from the standpoint of negative consequences for the American locale, but also for the third world countries the United States drug consumers buy from, perpetuating a violent cycle. “I hear about innocent children getting killed and about people who are not even affiliated with the drug trade being shot. It worries me because nothing is really changing, and the violence is growing,” Aguirre stated. One piece in particular portrays a scene of soldiers gathering around a line of bodies in the aftermath of a bloody exchange between Mexican soldiers and cartel members.

Visit the gallery

Other works in the exhibit explore identity, culture and mourning. In explaining his process, Aguirre said, “I’ve always been interested in ways I could make something real and horrific and honest, but at the same time, more accessible to people and beautiful in a way; beautiful and grotesque. That’s the way I stand in the way I approach a painting.” Students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to view this work on campus until Oct 16. More work is available at https://www.hermanaguirre.org/.

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