Sergi Aguilar (Barcelona, 1946) is part of a generation of sculptors whose artistic careers first came to light during Spain’s transition to democracy. It is an eclectic and diverse group that, in a sense, took over from the Informalism of the post-war years by way of the lessons of Minimalism and Conceptual Art.
Along with Aguilar, it includes artists such as Cristina Iglesias, Francisco Leiro, Miquel Navarro, Adolfo Schlosser and Susana Solano, all of whom subverted the limits of sculpture-as-monument and endowed space with a new performative quality that encourages spectator interaction.
Born into an artisan family, Aguilar began his creative work in the field of jewellery, and as he studied at the Escola Massana and the Conservatori de les Arts del Llibre in Barcelona, he designed avant-garde jewellery that gradually evolved into small-scale art objects.
On a trip to Paris in 1965, he was introduced to the work of Constantin Brancusi, Julio González and the Russian constructivists. In 1973, these influences along with the theoretical-philosophical interests that he had begun to cultivate during his years at Escola Massana led him dedicate himself to what he describes as a tenacious and obsessive practice that he is still pursuing four decades later.
One of his earliest series, entitled "Tronc-Espai-Terra-Eina" (1974) was inspired by finding some small logs in Menorca, which the people who live on the island use to make tools. The resulting object-works already reveal his profound interest in nature. They could be considered Aguilar’s first attempts to geometrise natural forms, and to naturalise geometric forms.
From 1973 to around 1979, he experimented with blocks of black marble, creating structures that lie somewhere between minimalism and geometric abstraction. He then gradually introduced other materials such as brass, bronze, concrete, steel, aluminium, wood, and, almost at the very end, iron.
His meticulous work with these diverse materials generates precise volumes that emphasise horizontal elements, axes, ramps, and edges, and that usually contain a certain sense of imbalance or instability. The full meaning of the works only emerges in the encounter with the spectator, when they appear to weave a kind of invisible web of paths and habitability around them.
Drawing plays a key role in Aguilar’s work, as do preparatory sketches and scale models of the pieces. His interventions in public space are also a major part of oeuvre, and include "Júlia" (1986) – the model of which is part of the MACBA Collection -, "Interior" (1987) and "Marca d’aigua" (1992).
An expedition through the desert in southern Algeria in 1987 turned out to be another turning point in his career. From that moment on, Aguilar began to include experiential aspects in his work. Sculptural objects gave way to installations in which drawings, photographs, maps, topographic charts and videos reflect his personal paths and journeys through different terrains and territories. ‘Thinking about a place also means referring to our way of being in it, and in this sense, sculpture is about being, not just on the physical level. Place and being are inseparable in sculpture,’ says the artist.