For artist Gabriela Aguilo, dreams and art are interwoven. Her dreams serve as powerful guides for exploring new realms of humanity and spirituality. And her artwork is the channel through which she expresses the messages communicated to her through those dreams.
With the influence dreams have on her work, it isn’t any surprise that Gabriela was called to encaustic as her medium. Encaustic paintings, which use heated wax, have a dream-like and ethereal quality and the medium allows her to explore various concepts within her body of work while remaining true to her very distinct style.
Whether expressed through landscapes or surrealism, each piece is rich with layers of meaning and invitations to explore deeper levels of the self. For Gabriela, her art is all about authenticity starting first with her desire to express something authentic to her, but then to hopefully move the viewer closer to their own authenticity.
Read on or watch the video below to learn more about Gabriela and her journey as an artist.
When did you know art was your calling?
From very young. I was always wanting to build things or invent things. Around the age of 12, I wondered what would it be like to draw a nude figure––a female form. When I drew it, it came out sort of perfect and I had no idea how I knew how to do that. Perfect is probably an exaggeration, but it looked correct to me and I didn’t know how I knew how to do that. I thought, well, either this comes from a past life or I just know how to do this. So, I decided to explore art.
From the age of 18 on, when I moved out of my parent’s house, I have never done anything but make art and sell art. It began with clothing for the music industry––one-of-a-kind art to wear for people like Paula Abdul, Fleetwood Mac, New Kids on the Block, Ozzie Osborne, and Pink Floyd. That financed my ability to take classes and to educate myself in art history. That took me to painting and working in glass. Then I dabbled in jewelry for a while. Then I was a stone sculptor. I cut stone for 13 years, but that began to beat up my body. Things were outweighing me and it was just really hard on my hands. So, I decided to paint and I wanted it to express the journey through my dreams to the Self with a capital “S”. Answering questions like, “Who am I?” I wanted to churn the ether for what is my personal voice. To do that, I chose encaustic because it’s very dreamy. I feel like it’s one of the best things I ever did. I love it. This is my medium for sure.
How has your work evolved?
You bring whatever you know from one medium to the next. There are things I do within encaustic that would not have happened had I not worked in stone or understood construction. But the way it’s evolved, especially in the last few years, is in my desire to express something incredibly unique to me––authentically me. Which means defining a genre in a way that doesn’t necessarily make sense to everybody. If you look at my entire body of work, it might look like it’s kind of all over the place because some of it’s surreal and some of it’s landscape. But because it’s all expressing my dream life, and informed by the imagery in my dreams and guided by the evolution of myself––the individualization of me––the courage to tell that story requires that I take really large risks. The customers that are my following love to see the story of the mystery of what it is I’m exploring spiritually and as a human being on earth answering really large questions like, “What does it mean to live from your heart and soul?”.
What has been your most challenging project?
There’s a triptych [that I worked on]. It’s the first time that I’ve tried to allegorically and profoundly show a psychological concept and part of my own evolution as to what it means to love yourself. In the first painting, there are two hummingbirds that are obviously about to make love. The entire thing kind of takes place in the fourth dimension, which is the internal soul vessel and where you are when you’re dreaming. The hummingbirds are in communion with each other in this really profound way.
The second painting, there’s two birds that are kissing, but the female is stretching, yearning, needing, wanting, and dependent on the masculine, which is kind of the divine masculine in these paintings. And she is just obviously so in her longing and that is a catalyst to self-love.
In the third painting, there’s a female figure who is undressing, and she’s tense and nervous. She’s also becoming water, which, in our dreams, is the symbol for feelings because they can’t be contained and it flows and it can’t really be stopped or controlled. The same male bird is seeing her and coming for her. So, in a way she’s the hummingbird in the first painting. And the painting is titled “Vulnerability”, which is open to feeling because you can’t heal what you won’t feel.
What do you love most about creating art?
It’s like there’s this beautiful tension between what is known, which is the loving daily practice of my craft, devoted and knowledgeable and this unknown thing that’s uncomfortable and wants to be birthed or shamaned into the world. And that tension makes it actually happen. It’s a really passionate thing and it’s very dear to my heart.
What brings you back to the Celebration of Fine Art?
First of all, the people. It is really wonderful to have conversations with the people that come to the show. Certainly the friends I’ve made that keep coming back to fall in love with more art and take that to their home and make it into a sacred object. We are, as artists channeling the unconscious on the page and they [viewers] are choosing the talisman that their heart desires in their home. But also the other artists and the wonderful dinners and conversations and talking shop and joking around in what has, over eight years of being here, become my tribe and people I love very much.