Saturated pixelations of brightly colored photos lined the walls of the Oglethorpe Gallery this past Friday for Augusto Silva Alliegro’s senior photography exhibition, “Here Now.” Shocking is one of the only ways to describe the strikingly arranged still lifes, composed of sexual and suggestive objects. However, the exhibition is more than just a collection of objects. Augusto admits himself, “I wanted to create still lifes for more than just the sake of still lifes.” And that he did.
The concept behind Augusto’s work is best defined in his artist statement, specifically the line, “But I’m here now.” This collection of images relays a narrative of a boy who was, in a sense, afraid of himself. The sequence of images conveys his journey over the past four years and how he’s grown to accept himself through influence from the environment he’s been surrounded by. In his own words, he “fell in love with himself.”
However, “Here Now” was definitely not what the audience expected from Augusto, who has come to be known as one of the most acclaimed fashion photographers at SCAD for the past four years. Not only does this exhibit have almost no ties to fashion, it also strays away from his comfort zone of shooting actual people. Upon deciding to stick strictly to still lifes, Augusto shares that he actually went three weeks without shooting. He felt like he couldn’t do it. The support of his peers and encouragement to push himself out of his comfort zone is what allowed him to create such evocative work.
This work is more than just evocative and more than simply a narrative, it is exposure. Augusto exposed his soul, his most pent-up emotions, for friends and family and even strangers to see. What must be taken away by each individual alike is how brave Augusto is for doing this. How strong and how true to his concept he remains by forcing the public to stare straight into his subconscious, while it stares straight back. That is bravery. That is art.
When asked which piece rung most true to his concept, he pointed to the bust of Julius Caesar with thick red lipstick stained across its stone lips. Caesar, one of the most masculine figures in history, now has no choice but to succumb to the blur of femininity. This is Augusto’s “attack on masculinity.” It derives from Augusto’s core insecurities about the expectations of masculinity in his home country of Venezuela. There, he never felt capable of expressing himself in the way he can now. But now, his friends and family stand in support of the man he has become. Now, he knows that who he is okay. Now, he can finally be in love with himself. Augusto Silva Alliegro is “Here Now.”