Juan Carlos Aguilar, born in Guatemala, is a son of artists, his mother is a painter and his father a musician. At the age of six, he began to have contact with art and sculpture thanks to the support of his parents. After a few years, through the books he read and his visual perception, he created his pieces in a self-taught way.
Subsequently, he studied at the University of San Carlos, in Guatemala, the Bachelor of Arts with a technician of Restoration of movable goods, and then he specialized in Restoration of Imaging and Furniture. At the University, he met Mr. Erick Rosales, who motivated him to work mid-career, it was there where he began to work together with the Bachelor of Restorations of Sacred Type Parts.
The contact with Mr. Jorge Carias motivated him to work the wood sculpture. He had met Carias at the Institute of Anthropology and History (IDAEH) when he worked for the Department of Cerebiem (Center for Restoration of Personal Property) by the Foundation G&T, where he was hired for the restoration of some images found in the Church of Santo Domingo.
It is here that he appreciates the woodwork and can see the anatomy and details presented by the images.
What are your origins as an artist and how did you start in the sculptor art world?
My origins as an artist… my mother is an impressionist artist, she is technically advanced, she is a master in oil and acrylic after dedicating many years, and my father is a gifted musician, a professional guitarist.
I started in sculpture because my mother after school gave me plaster to practice to create, to sculpt something. I began since a child, from 6 years old, my mother gave me plaster to play with because I use to put my hands into her paints. The moment my mother did that I had a gift from God for making sculpture and my passion grew developing my technique into adolesence.
I remember when I was growing up, I was maybe 14 or 15th years old, I started carving wood and all techniques till now.
Now I work any technique related to sculpture. Here in Guatemala after many years I am considered a master sculpture because I master the following techniques:
-Ceramics – Foundation in resin – Direct modeling – Sculpture in iron – Wood carving – Sculpted in stone
Video Courtesy of Rebirth/ Bordelais & Nina Vélez-Troya
What things inspire you?
Talking about inspiration is a complex thing, but I can say that everything comes from dreams that I sometimes have and, in other occasions, it is for some personal experience in which my feelings are affected either by something good or bad but that makes me work some personal pieces.
Do you have a favorite sculptor who has influenced in your style?
I admire the work of many sculptors, but especially since I have memory I have appreciated the work of the Master Auguste Rodin, I think his work is spectacular and he is someone who influences my style. Leaving that texture and not being afraid to get out of the ordinary is the most important thing for me, I think that Master Rodin has taught me a lot through books where I have been able to see his work, but I have not yet been able to see his work in person. I hope one day I can travel and be able to see his work to appreciate all that he achieved in his beautiful sculptures.
How would you define it?
Obviously as I learned to see Master Rodin in books from a young age, I have some influence from his work, but currently I have a style where I try to leave a little more texture and that my fingers are more visible in the pieces. At the same time, I try to capture in most anatomy work and achieve a little broken appearance to look old, this leads the viewer to imagine what is needed. Most of my pieces are broken because my children died and that pain led me to break my works because it is like demonstrating that I am missing something, and that is why my works make me missing some part.
Some words to describe your different sculptures collections?
In the passage of my short life, since I am currently 38 years old, I worked different facets of the sculpture. The first thing that I worked in formally was artistic works in carved wood for interior decorations of houses, for example, kitchens with carved styles, dining rooms with some artistic touch, doors, ceilings, etc., this type of decoration work led me to work wrought iron. Then I my art evolved to do stone sculpture for garden decorations, for collectors in my country. Over the year I worked in resin and ceramic piece. In this way you can see my learning in sculpture was the other way around since I started with the most difficult and ended up working what is not so difficult in modeling.
Currently, after having worked many commissions I can make own creations for myself and these are the ones that really attract attention because they carry a touch of special creation since they are not on request.
A sculptor is born or done?
I think as a teacher when they ask me this, and I say as a teacher because I teach sculpture and sculpture workshops here in Guatemala.
When asked if the sculptor is born or made, I answer the following: if a sculptor can be made, an artist is born. I say this because I believe anyone can do what I do if I teach it and they spend time learning the techniques with me, but an artist is the person who believes, that innovates, sets trends and this is achieved with creativity. I try to help my students to find that child they have inside so that their works have that creativity. I consider myself a child when I work sculpture, I talk with my works, I play with them, and this is where I can say I was born being an artist but I specialized as a sculptor.
Currently your sculptures are only in Guatemala or are in other countries?
At this moment you can only appreciate my works in Guatemala, I have worked for mayors and private collectors in my country. I hope one day I can work for other collectors and be able to say what I think with my hands. I would love that the whole world knew my work because my passion is to be able to tell everyone that art unites us and makes us better people.
What do you want to do in the next five years?
Work sculpture as I have done for 32 years.
I hope that in the next 5 years I am already a recognized internationally as a master sculptor like I am called in my country. I would love to see Guatemala support artists more. Unfortuantely they are locked in political problems and this means little support for the art culture in Guatemala.
I need to work hard to be able to express everything I have inside and raise the profile of my beloved country Guatemala.
What makes a work of art value or depreciate?
Personally, I can say that all works deserve respect, I do not understand conceptual art but I respect the creativity of the artist to achieve this type of art.
I think that the artist who dominates the anatomy, be it a painter or a sculptor, can really be called a master in his branch.
I am convinced that the best works of an artist must have three important points, and those points are: Passion, Reason and Technique.
This leads to a work that is beautiful, perfect, attractive, interesting and that people can classify it as a Masterpiece.
How do you see the future for sculptors? Some advice to the new young generation of artists?
I think the rules of drawing, painting and sculpture are the appreciation of anatomy.
I think that at this moment the so-called Modern art or Conceptual art (with all due respect to the artists) does not value the mastery of the technique and how complicated it is to understand anatomy.
I think that all art is valid and it is beautiful, but if in regard to the sculpture it should be catalogued to those who managed to master the anatomy as the main ones and so on, because right now the art of sculpture is being lost as the complex work that only some teachers manage to do.
I only want to point out that I thank for this interview and I want you to know that I am a self-taught artist, it means that I have never studied sculpture. Everything that has been tested and error, I am not the best but what I do, I do it with a lot of passion.
Named Artist of the year 2017. Prize awarded for his artistic career in the branch of Plastic Arts. Awarded by: Organization Artist of the Year Award, with the collaboration of the Institute of Culture and Sports; Association of Education and Culture ̈ Alejandro Von Humboldt ̈ and the G&T Continental Foundation, at the German Club in October 2017.
Currently Juan Carlos Aguilar works in personal productions and for his clients.