It should come as no surprise that I love Jorge Villalba’s work. I wrote about his art last year after a chance encounter with his painting The Kidnapping of Ganymedes I at the White Squares Gallery (read it here).
The Director Natasha Young was kind enough to provide me with more information regarding Mr. Villalba.
Mr. Villalba agreed to answer a few of my questions and also to provide images of his newest painting The Rape of Ganymedes. I have done all the translation for this interview, first the questions from English to Spanish and then the answers from Spanish to English. If any of the genius or thoughtfulness in the answers has been lost in translation I take full responsibility for this.
The settings of your paintings are dreamlike. They are on the verge of enchantment and yet on the verge of ominous. When you visualize the setting, a room, a forest or a field do you picture a safe place?
What place in the world is safe?
The children you portray often seem frightened. Do you feel that the insecurities in the child are reflected in the adult viewer?
I do not know, but I still feel that I see the world through a child’s eyes and I am thankful to G-d for this.
I like the contrast of realism to surrealism in your paintings. Is this something you feel is important in the balance of your painting?
In regard to the formal composition of the work I try to find the maximum balance. The paintings open doors to endless interpretation, all can find balance and harmony, and precisely therein lays one of the beauties of art.
My work tends to polarize concepts like life, death, humanity and inhumanity. Similar to the chef who mixes contrasting flavors and textures to create recipes and the musician tones, pauses or stops to make a compositions more interesting, the artist finds himself and developed his own pictorial language accordingly.
The way you paint shadows and light I think is delightful. What do you find pleasant about this aspect of your work?
Representing the tones in the lights and shadows of a stage, a bathroom, a bedroom, anywhere; even the subtleties of temperature can be transmitted to the viewer which can strengthen or soften a feeling. These feelings have been demonstrated even scientifically. The realm of the optic is very powerful and is studied by scholars to determine how expression influences emotions. Although there are words worth a thousand pictures, the phrase we hear the most is "a picture is worth a thousand words".
In Greek Mythology Ganymede was the most attractive of mortals, in your Rape of Gaymede series you have portrayed boys in distress. What are your thoughts on this?
Without ancient Greece neither Europe nor the world would be the same. After three thousand years of history, Greek mythology is still in style, so fresh, non-combustible as ever. Why? Because it tells us of barbarism, brutality and human genius in the most sublime and elegant way. In "The Rape of Ganymede" the threat of an evil and barren world is a reflection of the reality which many children are born into.
Zeus abducts in the form of an eagle- your image of the suit wearing birds is authoratative yet not aggressive. What are your thoughts on this?
I have used "artistic freedom" and replaced the eagle from the original Greek Myth with a crow to emphasize the act of "Rapture". The raven in Spanish is “Ave de Rapina” or "vulture" [or bird of prey] in German "Rabe, Raubvogel" means “Raven, bird of prey”.
I feel there are many forms of aggression, the act of kidnapping is accompanied by the desire to dominate and abuse, it can also be a means to even more brutal aggression.
It has been a pleasure inteviewing Mr. Villalba and gaining insight into his thoughts about his work and art in general. Graciasy la mejor de las suertes.
You can see Jorge Villalba at the Gallery Jörg Heitsch in Munich, in April 2010.
Furthermore, this fall he will be collaborating with painters Dietmar Groß, Golucho and Roberto Gonzalez Fernandez to exhibit together in Essen, this years European capital of culture.
To learn more and see more of his work please visit: