VILLALBA'S VISUAL POETRY
BY: FELICITY CARTER
Emilio Villalba - Visual Artist
Mr Emilio Villalba is a fine artist, a modern day one whose art both smacks you in the face (in a good way) and intrigues. His thick, sticky paint and plenty of it, is coupled with abstract-meets-surreal content which is designed to make you stand still, interpret and contemplate.
He’s always been a creative type - he’s worked in Los Angeles as as visual effects artist for the TV and film industry but San Fran is where he settled. He studied art there in 2008 and that’s where he’s remained, painting.
For Villalba it’s currently a case of back to the future, in what way? Well, he’s very romantically returning to form, either using a single photograph reference or painting from life. The new school is going old school it would seem, with a clean slate to set himself up for his next chapter.
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST MEMORY OF ART?
One of my earliest memories of making art is from the 2nd grade. The teacher asked everyone to draw a horse and my horse had grass drawn around the feet to show it was grounded, which I guess made the drawing stand out. I didn't think it was a big deal, but the teacher held it up and showed the class. It still isn't a big deal, but it made me feel special.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU BECAME AN ARTIST...
I have always been interested in drawing but went the animation route during college. I worked in LA for a few years as a visual effects artist on television commercials and film, before finally committing to fine art. I studied art in San Francisco and have been living here and painting ever since 2008.
WHICH ARTISTS PAST OR PRESENT HAVE HAD AN IMPACT ON YOU?
Lucian Freud, Manet, Velazquez, Morandi, Mary Cassat are some of my favorites at the moment that is fueling my newest direction. Some common thread for me in their works include the color palette, the brushwork, and a seriousness evoked from any subject matter they worked from.
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP YOUR AESTHETIC?
To sum up, a general aesthetic would be very difficult for me since my work is constantly evolving from series to series. Currently, I am working on a body of work that is titled "Back Home." The direction for this series is a return to form for me, meaning, I am returning to a single photo for reference or painting from life, which is how I painted all throughout my student years at art school. I'm focusing on the brushwork being a bit more playful and thick, and the subject matter so far has been the interior of my apartment. The purpose of this direction is to start fresh, almost like a clean slate, and start a new thread for growth.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROCESS...
I'm always thinking about painting and what I'd like to be working on next. I visit the local museums and galleries for inspiration and watch a ton of movies and reality tv. Inspiration also strikes when having conversations with my best friends and my girlfriend. I do a few sketches of an idea and then try to get started on the painting immediately after to maintain the truest form of the concept.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH YOUR WORK?
I'd like to think of my work like poetry. It can be literal at times but leaves spaces and gaps for the mind to fill and ponder, not everything in my work is meant to be a given. Another factor for me has always been paying homage to my painting heroes and masters. There are always little nods to specific paintings and painters that have had a powerful impact on me throughout my life as an artist.
HOW YOUR STYLE EVOLVED?
My style has evolved and come back full circle recently. I worked on portraits for many years and spent time deconstructing them. Then, my work evolved into a variety of painted objects, mostly found at home, organized into abstracted interior spaces inspired by the Bauhaus movement. Now, I am just beginning this new body of work which will be up at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco, April 2020.
WHICH PIECE RESONATES THE MOST WITH YOU AND WHY?
Any Lucian Freud self-portrait, or the single asparagus painting by Manet. I'm always looking for answers in Lucian Freud's paintings, and with Manet, I see honesty, beauty, and a sense of humor for life all in a single image.
Images by: Emilio Villalba
Words by: Felicity Carter
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