As a child, Júlio Villani fell in love with indigenous geometric composition. Years later, already an artist, he sees his production approaching the work of Torres García. Today, his work, the result of so many influences and repertoires, is composed of a delicate projection of his personality, whose essence is born from a quiet, affective and selective imaginary. Two simultaneous exhibitions by the artist in São Paulo, which took place from June to August of this year, open space for new reflections: basted, at Raquel Arnaud and by a thread, in the Station Gallery. Recent works in the series Collapsible Architecture, a rigid design transformed into a malleable object, speak of destabilization, of the collapse that something can collapse at any moment. The embroideries sewn on old sheets mined in Parisian flea markets are a stable process, convergent between his life and work.
Villani's creative universe involves the viewer through the line, the inspiration that guides all of his work. Several sculptures hang from threads, which also appear in the writing on the cloths, revealing how Villani weaves his world. The joy that permeates all of his creations is perhaps the artist's greatest asset. Even in the huge metal sculpture, exposed in the open air at the Raquel Arnaud gallery, the playfulness is evident. Imbued with poetic reverberation, the piece points to Villani's production as an immense playground.
In his São Paulo and Parisian studios, Villani brings to life concepts developed using a methodology in stages and compartments. Everything stems from the intense production process: paint rollers, paint done, paint still in progress, waiting for their turn following a mental construction system. “I need three four things in progress to have speed in execution”. The core of his production is the persistence of these practices that involve the use of Japanese paper. “With him I study the structure of the paintings, do preliminary exercises, cut out the rice paper and then reconstruct it. This structure is the basis of all my production”.
Villani's repertoire is extensive, resulting from the syntax of several experiments. Collector of anonymous and old French photos, with images of entire families or solitary characters, the artist intervenes on them with paintings or clippings, creating new meanings and transforming them into the art of the present. The manipulation of photography is recognized almost at the same time as its invention. Bertolt Brecht talks about composite photographs, retouched as a humorous background of the genre in the 19th century.
There is a parallel between Villani's photographs and Dadá's poetry, in both everything happens in the chance of total freedom of composition. Each photo brings layers of memories that activate the memory, from the place where they were acquired, who the characters are, who photographed them. Regarding the slippery nature of identity, Villani makes the viewer smile at the erasures carried out with brightly colored paints and youthful grace, which can either eliminate the face of an engaged couple or place oversized floppy ears on a girl dressed for First Communion. With this procedure, Villani goes back to the days when, as a boy, he used to pierce his face in family photos if he didn't like the result of his image. This practice that lives from the vertigo of the clipping, from the fragmentation, has become nowadays in erasures that could result in a collision between two epochs. On the contrary, it became a living art mediated by the exaggeration of gestures and humor.
Em by a thread, the viewer experienced prosaic everyday objects such as watering cans, pans, skimmer, hangers, shovels, transformed into toys and art. The set enshrines the playful crossing of popular inventions with the children's universe. Scissors, charcoal, glue, paint and thread are some of the tools in your constructive game. They are works inspired by the Brazilian artisanal tradition, with simple and graceful objects that emerged in the time when children created their own toys and had fun with them on the dirt streets. This formal simplicity leads to the title of Almost Ready-Made, clear reference to Marcel Duchamp.
As stated by Baudrillard, “our imaginary is evolutionist, finalist, everything is considered as a phase or moment of a journey”. Villani produces continuously on both continents and the São Paulo shows join others already held in France this year, the individual exhibition at the RX gallery in Paris and the group show “… Et l'Obscur”, at Thoronet Abbey in Provence, used by the Palais de Tokyo for contemporary exhibitions.
I agree with Philippe Piguet when he says that it is necessary to have seen Villani's studio to grasp the artist's almost improbable universe. I know one of them, where he stores his production and decodes experiences and inspirations.