Tony Villejo

Tony Villejo

Exhibition: Mar 15 – May 13, 2001


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.

Artist

Tony Villejo

San Antonio, Texas, USA

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.

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Curators

Amada Cruz

Los Angeles, CA
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Kellie Jones

New York, NY
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Nancy Rubins

Topanga, California, USA

Born in 1952 in Naples, Texas, Californian Nancy Rubins received her MFA from the University of California, Davis. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including shows at Paul Kasmin Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Venice Biennale Aperto. Rubins’ work was included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ Helter Skelter exhibit in 1992. Rubins teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Art Department. She has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Tiffany Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Annette DiMeo Carlozzi

Austin, TX
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Dan Cameron

Newport Beach, California

From 2012 to 2015 he was Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California. In 2006, Dan Cameron founded the Biennial Prospect New Orleans, where he worked at until 2011. From 1995 to 2005 he was Senior Curator at the New Museum, New York, where he developed numerous group exhibitions, such as East Village USA and Living inside the Grid, and several individual shows dedicated to the artists Martin Wong, William Kentridge, Carolee Schneemann, Carroll Dunham, Doris Salcedo, José Antonio Hernández Diez, among others.
As independent curator he has organized many exhibitions that brought him international attention, such as El arte y su doble (Fundación Caixa, Madrid, 1987); El jardín salvaje (Fundación Caixa, Barcelona, 1991); Cocido y crudo (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1995), among many others. In 2003, he was the Artistic Director of the 8th Istanbul Biennial, and in 2006, Co-curator of the 5th Taipei Biennial.
He has published hundreds of texts in books, catalogues and magazines, and has given numerous talks and conferences at museums and universities around the world, also carrying out an important teaching activity in New York.

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Hans Ulrich Obrist

London, England

Hans Ulrich-Obrist is the Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London, positions created for Ulrich-Obrist in April 2006. As a curator at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France since 2000, among many other exhibitions he organized solo shows with Jonas Mekas (2003), Anri Sala (2004), and Cerith Wyn Evans (2006). Before this position Ulrich-Obrist was an independent curator for a decade, organizing the group show Take Me I’m Yours at the Serpentine (1995) and Retrace Your Steps: Remember at the John Soane Museum (1999), also in London, England. Ulrich-Obrist was a panelist in 1998 for the 1999-2000 year of artists, and was invited to be a speaker at the 2003 symposium, but was unable to come due to illness.
Photo by Dominik Gigler

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