about the exhibition
New Works 01.1
San Antonio, TX
March 15–May 13, 2001about the artist
Tony Villejo was born in 1953 in San Antonio, TX where he lives and works. He studied fine art with Mel Casas at San Antonio College. Villejo has worked in the theater and entertainment industry for nearly two decades, building parade floats, creating retail displays, and designing theater sets for stage productions throughout Texas, as well as in Mexico City and New York. He has exhibited his paintings in San Antonio, TX at Centro Cultural Aztlan (1999); Blue Star Art Space (1998); Plaza Guadalupe (1995); Martin-Rathburn Gallery (1995); the San Antonio Museum of Art (1987), Carver Cultural Center (1985); Shawn-Davenport Gallery (1980); and the McNay Art Museum (1979).
Tony Villejo’s work transforms everyday images and stories into dynamic sculptural ensembles. A background in painting and theater design informs his installation of colorful, large-scale figures, notable for their craft and allegorical references.
Tony Villejo was selected for his ArtPace residency by the March 1998 panel consisting of Dan Cameron, Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, Amada Cruz, Kellie Jones, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and Nancy Rubins.
about the project
Line and color dominate Tony Villejo’s installation of large-scale sculptures at ArtPace. Welded metal armatures take the form of animals and human figures, animating the space with their cage-like skeletons. Negative space and strong lines define the forms, which appear like three-dimensional drawings in the space.
The subjects recall everyday experiences in South Texas. The interaction between people and their environment is of great interest to the artist. In Villejo’s iconic imagery, one encounters a group of crazed dogs, a chaotic brawl between men, and a fish one might find on restaurant signage. In one piece, a man is kneeling, his back towards the viewer—it is unclear whether he is being arrested for a crime, offering a prayer, or striking a yoga posture. This ambiguity is typical of Villejo, who explores the impact of the social on human behavior.
Villejo has paid careful attention to the installation of these sculptures. Custom lighting casts dramatic shadows of the pieces on the walls, making for an animated, carnival-like environment. This mood is furthered by the evocative sounds of locusts and crickets’ hum in the space. San Antonio media artist George Cisneros collaborated with Villejo on the sound design.
Villejo’s work as a parade-float builder and theater designer informs the scale and craft of the sculptures. Together, the characters become members of a large-scale repertoire, a celebratory and dynamic production. The effect is a dizzying combination of a whimsical narrative and psychological tension.