by Patrick Ogle
“I think when I was younger, in my teens and early twenties...I had a lot of energy! I was more experimental and enthusiastic. Some pieces were successful, but that work was not as evolved as now. But also, that was in an age when society was not so visual as now there wasn't a computer in every household, no one I knew even had an email address, and Photoshop didn't exist.” she says.
Aguero’s work had a style that worked with overlapped negatives, darkroom experimentation and the use of missed media to create textures within the photographs.
“ I had a very contrasty style of lighting- I blew out skin tones, diffused them and always shot things from unusual angles. I also hand painted prints, etc. My work overall, had more of an impact in the nineties than it does now,” she says.“ It led to publications and some nice gigs as a photographer. My involvement in that history is what gives my work today , as an artist, a little bit of special appeal.”
One of the photos that has become an icon and been imitated (whether consciously or not who knows) is Caution, pictured above and below.
“Specifically, I'm inclined to address the pieces which have stood through time, and taken on life forms of their own. (even, if they were not, in my opinion, my best works) It now almost 21 years since I created Lacrima and Caution, and I still see them around!” says Aguero. “Both of these images are effective because of their simplicity. Lacrima has nothing in its background to distract the viewer from the subject ,which is high in contrast and in my opinion, blatant in its story. The running drop from a highly made- up (makeup /glamour) eye is open to many interpretations and easy to relate to.”
She says Caution is also right to the point—but totally misunderstood piece. Aguero says it is libido that seems to have led to such misunderstanding.
“Its contrast is enhanced by the yellow airbrush paint which I used to color only the tape. That reminds me, if Marshall oils did exist then, they were difficult to obtain...and even so, the yellow was never nearly as saturated as the result from experimenting with the airbrush paint,” she says. “ I've always interpreted ideas and emotions in my work. That is my forte. (heck ,even the art institute had to invent a category for me to major in and they called it "editorial illustration" . But, back to the point...) Lacrima was not anything specific. I came up with it because I thought it looked interesting and it ‘spoke’ to me each time I washed off my makeup. The models name, btw, is Julian. It's not me.”
The meaning of Lacrima is the contrast of glamour and sadness—at least to Aguero herself. She is more than willing to let the viewer decide for themselves.
The idea that Caution, especially, was seen as “sexy” irritates Aguero. She meant it as a self portrait of her feelings, it was a warning sign, a caution to the viewer.
“ Even today, I can only think to that--‘ew.’" she says. “It is not sexy, but a portrait of bare vulnerability. The ‘caution’ on the body represented fragility and the "do not enter" was intentionally placed on my head to represent my then, confused adolescent mind and thoughts!”
That is the way with any art; how it is intended often takes a back seat to how something is popularly perceived. Aguero is not sure about if this is correct or not.
“I can't say, but it certainly shows me how society as a whole, perceives and thinks. I had a real issue with this in my youth. I was truly innocent then.” says Aguero.
After seeing her works and hearing her ideas for works it is difficult to understand why Aguero is not wildly successful as an artist. Why is that?
“If I knew , I would alter it, and become widely successful !” she says. “I could start speaking like a new aged hippie and tell you it's because I'm not in tune with my intuition enough to know when to act upon opportunities and when not to. Or that my sense of manifestation is off balanced by the inability to focus. Is that what you mean? My endeavors have often been unfortunate after starting with great potential, even in my own eyes. The answer is, I dunno. I see my life as a process and success is subjective.”
Talent isn’t always about “making it”, whether IT is money or acclaim. An artist can be successful in their work and not convert that into money or fame or recognition. It is one of the truly sad parts of any sort of art. Aguero has a theory.
"Successful people (I'm talking rich or famous) are usually people who have LESS thoughts running through their heads, so they are able to focus and stick with a goal. Ever notice that? And I am not ragging on them, good for them," says Aguero. “It teaches us, that goals can be reached if we stick to them with patience. My idea of success in life would be to have complete balance of everything I am. Money would probably be a side effect of that, because I'd be more effective at what I do and how it is valued to others.”
She doesn’t want fame in any case. In fact, Aguero seems uncomfortable with attention. She is a tad paranoid about electronic exhibition of her work. She has been focusing on commercial photography until recently and has just turned back to working on more artistic endeavors. Doing commercial photographs has implications in her art.
"When I am in the commercial state of mind, I cannot create art. But you need creativity to create commercial art. So the habit forms of molding and watering- down raw, creative thoughts. And after a period it becomes hard to let loose again and to be truly artistic.” says Aguero.
Next up is an online print shop and completion of her series, more than a thousand words.