In Sync with… Saul Aguirre (interview)

Saul Aguirre and Sergio Gomez

This post continues my series “In-Sync with…” aimed to get a closer look at contemporary artists and art professionals from Chicago and abroad. Read it, enjoy it, share it, and get in-sync with chicago based artist Saul Aguirre. Do not miss his personal recommendations at the end of the interview.

I met Saul Aguirre back when we both were students at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. We have enjoyed a good friendship over the years and I enjoy the many artistic ventures he embarks on a constant basis. His many talents make him a true multidisciplinary artists whose energy and visionary mind continue to push him in new and exciting directions.  Do not miss his art performance on March 15 at the Zhou B Art Center.   Enjoy the interview!


Sergio: Where did you go to school (college/university) and what degree did you receive?
Saul: School of the Art Institute of Chicago 1992-1995 and 2005-2009

Sergio: Do you feel art school prepared you for the art career you have now?
Saul: School is an everyday of life, you will never finish learning new things, weather you are learning a new skill, or continuously receiving imagery in your mind and processing it creating a new product in art. For me school facilitated the studios to experiment with new materials and facilities that I was not able to find on my own. I started exhibiting since I was 15 years old, along the Marcos Raya, Alejandro Romero, and Mario Castillo. My preparation for the art career started with me working at an art supply store. I gained the knowledge while continuously keep asking questions when other artists were buying their materials.

Sergio: What is your website?


Sergio: What are you working on and what inspires you right now?
Saul: I have been working on a new series of paintings on paper called WE ALL MAKE HISTORY works on paper sizes 50”X30”, also a series of pregnant women, and in recent years I have been involved in performance work! Every day in life is an inspiration for me; my work is a product of what I do on a daily part of life. I create, transform what I see.

Sergio: How does a typical day in your studio/creative space looks like?
Saul: I arrive set up, (most of the time is set up is ready) think the process and execute pieces as I progress on my thinking, I work on several pieces at the same time. I believe it is very important to be able to consume the creativity of the work. Sometimes early in the morning I work on getting other ideas to create. My inspiration is the response to the social issues we all perceive and are shared through the media, and also through the everyday education. Just recently I have moved my studio outside of my living space, which shared relationships, studio and living style made things difficult. Twenty one years of work, while I had it at home I was working until the early hours of the following day, things that to this day has not changed. The recently the new studio is an 1100 square feet at Mana Contemporary Fine Arts Building in Pilsen; where I have ample space to work on several pieces at a time.

Sergio: Describe your creative process.
Saul: I have a tendency to really think about the use of the materials that I use when I work on a new piece. For example the series of Un Dolor, is a series of the manipulated text and altered images of bills and executed with pastels, graphite, and 24 Karat gold leaf on Amatl (Bark Paper) the paper that was used in the writing of the Aztec Codices, it symbolizes the Native Americans. Each individual Bill must be read to figure out the information on the piece. I evaluate the color and how the paint should be applied; also I work with high quality material. In the production, everything is thought about; I make sure my works on paper are framed with acid free mat-board and conservation glass for better preservation. The theory of the work is always changing depending on the day; I evaluate the imagery, movements and the flow of every single piece; depending on the concept.

Sergio: Do you find social media to be a distraction or an asset for you as an artist and how do you deal with it?
Saul: Social media could be both a distraction and an asset; it all depends on how you use it? Or abuse it?


Sergio: What is your biggest challenge as a contemporary artist?
Saul: As a contemporary artist one of the biggest challenges is that people think that you can just give away your work, sometimes because it looks nice or they think that it is done really quickly.  People do not ever think about the cost of the materials, time spent, and concept of the piece. Another challenge is getting the right people to see your artwork, all your friends can come out to support and value your work, but also you need your art collectors to generate the income to keep producing it.

Sergio: How much does the art market influence your art production/output?
Saul: I maintain up to date with the current exhibitions locally and internationally. I like to know what people are doing and if I meet the artist I like to talk about the work. When that isn’t possible I just maintain a keen eye and follow the work of people that I like, not only because of them but because of their work. I also maintain a small collection works by Mario Castillo, Fred Burkhart, Gin Byron; to name a few. This allows me to appreciate the work of other colleagues when I go and work on new pieces in the studio.

Sergio: What’s next for you?
Saul: I will be doing a performance piece at the Zhou B Center called Unconscious Minds, March 15th. I will also be doing lunch or dinner with the artist series once a month people will be able to have lunch or dinner with me and talk about the artwork, process and other issues if they want to. I want to give people a chance to get to know the person behind of the art. I am raffling a piece called Xilonen. A portrait of an indigenous young girl; becoming a woman at the same time trying to fit on a in a different culture and dress. I will be participating in a group show in Mexico City. I will also be curating a show in Prospectus Gallery in the near future.


Sergio: What excites you about your local art scene?
Saul: I have to admit, the shows at Packer Schoff Gallery are always exciting, I have a tendency to see the shows before they open up, or on a later time after opening night. It is easier to observe the work without interruptions.

Sergio: Do you believe gallery representation today is as important as it has been in the past?
Saul: Representation is always a must, weather be gallery or artist representative. This allows the artist to concentrate on the artwork without interruption.

Book…         The open veins of Latin America, Eduardo del Rio
Art museum… Natural history Museum, in Mexico City; Hyde Park Art Center.
Place to be inspired by… anywhere
One sentence advice for an art student… Make sure to think about the materials you use while doing the artwork. Also explore all mediums during school, and continue to do work non- stop.
Chicago cafe/restaurant…  Ipsento Café in Bucktown, Maiz Restaurant in Humboldt Park




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