Farley Aguilar Named Recipient of 2015 Orlando Museum of Art Florida Prize in Contemporary Art

Farley aguilar - 2015 florida prize winner

July 9, 2015

Miami's Farley Aguilar has been named this year's recipient of the Orlando Museum of Art Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, OMA's Director and CEO Glen Gentele announced today [Thursday, July 9].

Aguilar was one of 10 Florida-based artists selected to participate in this year's Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, an annual invitational exhibition that runs for three months at the Orlando Museum of Art.  The exhibition is on view until September 6.  This year's Florida Prize award is $20,000.

“Farley's work epitomizes the very best of today's emerging contemporary artists in Florida,” Gentele said. “His unique and creative style has not only stood out to the selection committee who judged this year's Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, but also those who have visited the Orlando Museum of Art to see this amazing exhibition.”

Three jurors selected Aguilar as this year's recipient of the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art: Juan Roselione-Valadez, director of the Rubell Family Collection in Miami; Ginger Gregg Duggan, independent curator and partner of curatorsquared, Orlando; and Ben Thompson, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville.

The other artists chosen to be in this year's Florida Prize in Contemporary Art include: Bhakti Baxter [Miami]; Cesar Cornejo [Tampa]; Michael Covello [Tampa]; Rob Duarte [Tallahassee]; Jennifer Kaczmarek [Pensacola]; Nicolas Lobo [Miami]; Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz [Orlando]; Alex Trimino [Miami]; and Antonia Wright [Miami].

“This was a difficult decision to choose one from these ten exceptional artists, whose work varies so widely,” said Hansen Mulford, curator and head of the collections and exhibitions department at the Orlando Museum of Art, and exhibition curator of the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art. 

“[Hansen Mulford] made the task of selecting a single artist extremely difficult as he chose exemplary artists embracing a full range of artistic practices,” Roselione-Valadez said. “Many of the strongest works were as poetic as they were political. After much debate, we selected Farley Aguilar's singular, dystopian paintings.”

Aguilar’s paintings combine the bizarre and the familiar in nightmarish scenes filled with anxiety and dread. “My work deals with the underbelly of American history,” he explained. “I use everyday snapshots from the past and expose the hidden transcendental qualities within the mundane photograph.”  Underlining much of the work is a suspicion of the pressure on individuals to confirm to a larger social order and vilify the non-conformist. He calls this the violence of socialization, saying that in his paintings, “I depict my feeling of how history, the past, filters through time and influences the fear and injustices we must deal with in our everyday lives.”

Aguilar was born in Managua, Nicaragua in 1981 and grew up in Miami where he attended  Florida International University. He only began painting after he leaving the University, teaching himself the techniques and concepts needed to realize his artistic vision. In the relatively short time that he has worked as a painter, Aguilar has gained strong recognition in the South Florida art community and beyond.

“The process of selecting this year's winner was difficult, to say the least,” Thompson stated. “However, in the end, all of the jurors felt confident that the recipient should be Farley Aguilar. I had an immediate and visceral reaction to Farley's paintings upon entering the exhibition. It can probably be best described as an overwhelming fascination, an urge to know more about the nightmarish world within the work. The environment within his paintings is foreign but strangely familiar, they have moments of epic grandeur and quiet poignancy, they attract and repel the viewer, but in the end, leave you wanting more.”

This is the second year that the Orlando Museum of Art has held its Florida Prize in Contemporary Art. The purpose of the exhibition is to bring a new level of support to Florida's most progressive artists by recognizing their contributions to the field and their impact on the cultural vitality of Florida. The exhibition includes artists whose studio practices cross all platforms including film, video, painting, sculpture, mixed-media, and large scale installations created specifically for the exhibition. Last year's winner of the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art was Miami-based artist Agustina Woodgate.

“My vote for Farley Aguilar as this year’s winner was a reaction, first viscerally, to the work—the oddly surreal subject matter, the formal qualities of the painting, the color choices—and second, after learning more about the subject matter and Aguilar’s approach,” Gregg Duggan added. “The phenomenon of group behavior that he addresses feels incredibly timely, particularly given the movement toward a more and more divided world view, continually reaffirmed by our choice of television news programming and social media circles.  The layering of meaning in Aguilar's paintings speak volumes about where we are today vis a vis the warped lens of the past.”   

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Image credit: Farley Aguilar, School, 2015, oil on linen, 68 1/2 x 95 in., Courtesy of the artist and Spinello Projects, Miami, Florida. © 2015 Farley Aguilar. Photo by Raymond Martinot.