Friday, October 14, 2005

Carlos de Villasante

Let’s use this post to discuss Carlos’ presentation. I took with me his constant exploration of figure/ground, his iconoclastic syncretism of lowbrow lucha libre masks mixed with Mexican prehistory, pop, hieroglyphics and collage of alternative materials. I want to have your opinions in this post.


Nydia said...

I really liked Carlos' work! I know you hate that word, Tirff, but I really enjoyed it! I enjoy it more now than I did at the exhibition because I was able to see it more clearly as opposed to a closed glass door. His use of positive and negative seems masterful to me! The form of the figures and the dimensionality of them is so well expressed that I feel the faces are actually about to turn or in the moment of turning when he has them in profile and I seem to feel the movement like the portrait of his wife touching her hair. I feel that the way he distributes the positive and negative adds real depth and they seem so real to me! As a graphic designer, I learned a lot becasue he truly simplifies everything and in Graphic Design, simple is sometimes-if not usually-better because too much information will confuse a design and I feel he handles a great graphic quality in his car hoods with the use of, at most, two colors for the background and the figure in the foreground-which sometimes blends with the background, which I also found intriguing-is just one other color and he seems to make great use of his color. I also appreciated his idea of not thinking of people in terms of racial color-like haitians should be a brown color and some hispanics a caramel like color and white people are a pinkish white color or whatever-but instead chose a color he felt perhaps went with their personality or just a color he felt fit. I also like that he appears to be a little more well rounded as in he paints and draws very well, he knows how to use the computer to beenfit his art and he also tries to do sculpture. Also, one can see he has a lot of work behind him. The way he draws his figures reminded me a little of Indian drawings, like the ones you would find in like Kamasutra or something-not to be perverted but they remind me of that. It was the first thing that popped into my head. I don't have many complaints about Carlos' work at all except that i would like to see some of his same design done on paper so I could take on home with me because i don't think I could fit a car hood in my house-eventhough I find that idea much more intense and like it better! Also, I would like to see more sculpture work. I know he said that his works write now are considered three-dimensional because the car is three-dimensional but I think of it as a 2-D image in a 3-D plain. I think some of his figures would be more interesting if he actually took the drawing he made on the car hood and made it come out of the car hood or something like that and then I would consider it more 3 dimensional. But overall, great work!

anita said...

i agree with nydia in that---JUST KIDDING, TRIFF!

okay, seriously:
carlos' presentation was a little too slow for me. he took a while to formulate what he wanted to say and it was making me quite restless, especially when the clock struck 8:45 p.m. and he wasn't almost over yet.

i was really drawn into his work. his images were clear and his use of color was great. i can't find another way of saying this, but i found that some of his ideas and motifs have something in common with me: the idea of using found objects, mixed media, the motifs of bull-dozers (i've been into photographing cranes, bull-dozers, tractors, and the like in the night-time while they are at work), ruins--mainly ancient america, and the technique of tracing silhouettes (except that i don't trace the silhouette--i have a different technique).

i wanted to ask him if when he threw symbols in together, was he concerned with that what the symbols say collectively? or was it just something random (because most people won't know what those symbols represent).

his treatment of the relationship between figure-ground and back-ground was interesting and successful, might i add. i can see a speck of schiele in his way of rendering the figure, but not enough to say that he's imitating him.

i loved his use of mixed media, using wallpaper, fabrics, silk-screen, enamel, traditional paint, and so on. it shows that he's not afraid to venture into untraditional techniques of painting. and yet, his i don't see evidence in his art work of an ambition to rebel or to shock. he's just doing what he feels at the moment of creating. the idea of unplanned art work seems to work really well--i admire that--i find it almost demanding that artists have to have some planned idea when creating. carlos' work is a sigh of relief against that demand.

i'm really glad that carlos made it to class and please, no offense to anyone, but i was glad to know that he was mexican and that some of that came at us through his work(references to lucha libre masks, ancient mesoamerican glyphs and ruins).
although we live in miami and there are so many different cultures and nationalities that reside here, we often get to see the perspective from one culture/nationality only. it was refreshing to see something different.

anita said...


is it just me or is there a pattern in latin american artists or those who are still influenced by their roots to use written language in their work?

AT said...

Actually I think this is one of the few pieces by Carlos in which you see written language. Jului -the Mexican painter he mentioned yesterday- is really into words. It goes back to Frida and even before, the so-called "retablos" (or popular 19th century hand-painted cards) where people wrote Mexican folk poems for lovers and the dead.

anita said...

oh, i didn't mean carlos in specific,
i think that we only saw one or two pieces from that series where he quotes from an Agustín Lara song.
i just meant in general.
i've seen other stuff by other artists with words.
i know i've seen it among cuban artists and other nationalities that don't come to mind.
i was just wondering if this is a common trend.

AT said...

The name is Julio Galan (my typo). I follow you Ana. A trend? Perhaps.

Josh said...

The graphic quality of work in Carlos' art was very satisfying to see. The pieces were very clean and had a great sense of depth. I appreciated this mainly because that's the way I like to work on a lot of design work. I love clean, flat, vibrant color. The use of the car hood was mysterious to me. I understand that it's a good dimensional surface to paint on, but I don't know if there's a reason for besides a random aesthetic use. Not to say I don't like it-I do. But I am confused by the reason it exists. Also, I love the idea of using the wrestler masks as imagery. On the pieces that he had in "Nawlins," he had them attached to the surface sort of hanging. That piece looked very awkward to me. I really didn't care for the composition and everything seemed sort of haphazard like there wasn't a great deal of thought into the piece. Nevertheless, I really appreciate the rest of his work. The threshold'd images painted onto found objects provides for great imagery in my opinion.

Like was said earlier, the negligence of racial color was good to see, also. It gives me a feeling that Carlos sees humans as just that, humans. We are all flesh and blood and our relatives may come from different areas which makes us different culturally, but skin color isn't what's important. It's what's behind that skin that makes a person. I don't know if that's the intention, but that's the indirect statement that I drew from it. Good luck to you, Carlos, in the future.

Dominic Halley-Roarke said...

What I found most interesting about Carlos' work was the disintegration of the representation of the face into basic elemental forms. Most of the time it worked; only a few times it didn't. It seemed most successful to me (and I think he said something himself that inferred this) when the individual components were not easily identifiable when taken on their own, but when taken in relation to each other convincingly conveyed the identity of a particular individual.
Some of the pieces did not seem to me to to integrate all the elements well but most did, even some of the busier ones. His small bits of metaphysical commentary didn't add anything to their success, at least for me; I found them enjoyable on their own as art for its own sake. As to the racial issue-who knows (except the artist) what is the reason he started using non-realistic skin colors? I wonder if he actually did this intentionally as a social statement or just for the variety it gives-"realistic" skin colors are rather limiting. It made me wonder why Krishna is sometimes depicted as having very blue skin.
I found his justification for using ruins as a design element (I think it was the common element that both the buildings and the cars had been junked/abandoned) unconvincing. Since the car hood was only the surface carrying the images, it seems to me there would have to be some relation between the other images and the ruins for it to make sense-and I do not find any. One sees a lot of this combination of unrelated imagery in current printmaking-interestingly enough it seems most prevelent when the artist is very technically assured.
There has been some commentary on the use of car hoods-I am not certain why he chose this surface either (perhaps he explained it and I have forgotten). Possibly its because they have a unique surface quality due to the combination of the metal itself with the type of paint. The car hoods may have been chosen as a means to lift the image just slightly out of the plain of the surface on which it is hung without resorting to another flat surface (canvas). In this way I think it is rather effective; however I would like to have seen the images more related, even in their 2-dimensionality, to the shape of the hood.
Finally, I rather liked the element of old fashioned romanitic sentiments in his work-his devotion to his wife, and the use of the song texts.

peter said...

When Carlos said that most of his work consisted of self-portraits... I started saying in my mind "this is gonna be boooooorrring". After seeing his work, I thought this guy was great. His graphic style of posterizing the figures into the two color format was something I usually see, but intergrating fabric, silk-screening, and hardware supplies into the portraits was very innovative. I thought it was very confident and brave of him to work on his pieces spontaniously. I guess with alot of practice and knowing that the objects he works on were once garbage, he feels safe enough to experiment with different ccombinations of colors and materials. I think thats a good reason to work on found objects they give the artist alot of freedom. I really like Carlos' style I hope to see more of his work in the future.

sierra said...

I enjoyed Carlos' work because i relate to his sense of style. I once found the metal top of an ironing board and thought "what can i do with this" because it looked so awesome, but i ended up trowing it away a month later. Carlos obviously would know what to do with it. I was impressed by the contrast of is soft sketchy figures (like this one pictured) to his other way of figure representation: the graphic posterized images. he has a firm grip on what he is about and what his art is about. I think that some of his pieces with the posterizing worked better then others. The pieces with the least bit of recognizable information or least amount of detail (im thinging about some of his theater chairs) seemed to be more comanding. some of the detailed posterized images of his wife are too complicated and take away from the simplistiy that really makes the pieces strong. Other then that i think that he has a way with capturing gesture and obviously color, and yeah... wow

naomi Witt said...

I was not personally drawn to the aesthetics of Carlos’ work but I definitely respect his craftsmanship in using the materials he was using. You can see how his work would grab people’s attention with how graphic it is, given that that is whats in now. I think his style worked the best for the murals. I could see how the bold images would read well at a distance.

amanda said...

I dont have a strong opinion about Carlos' work. some pieces caught my attention and others i didnt care for. i think he has an amazing way of tieing together things that inspire him...old junk as the idea of ancient ruins, the masks, and the use of patterns from many cultures. His work, like Triff said is definitly all about him, which i think is a good thing. I was not a fan of his older work..the 2d images with people and wallpapaer, ect. i didnt like the compositions. Even though including the patterns from different cultures and wallpaper is an interesting idea, i thought they seemed unorganized and not pleasing to the eye.
The car hoods were great, i liked looking at the different contours of each hood, they were interesting shapes for sure. i thought that the images of the people were just right because they were all different and each expression was interesting. i would love to see more work on convertible tops...that was the most interesting becuase of the open white space where the window is gives an interesting addition to the composition.
the advertisement for Wahab construction reminded me of the Egyptians. mainly because of the figures pose and i liked this idea for a construction company because they were such great builders.
of all the artists that have come he seems to me the best because he is innovative, has a great sense of color, and it not afraid to do what interests him.

Heidi said...

I think that the use of car hoods and other car parts makes DeVillasante unique. You can identify his work when you see it. I like the idea of the use of different media and textures in the same piece and the way he transform junk into art. I also like the idea of the writing and ruins added to his pieces. It’s a way to let people know where is he from and in some cases turn on the interest of the audience to learn more about them.

Natalia said...

I found Carlos presentation very interesting and different. The fact that he uses car hoods instead of canvas for his paintings makes his art very unique. I like the way he uses color, specially the ones with red background and black figures, this contrast works really well and makes the painting more vibrant. Just in a few of the paintings I did not like the arrangements of colors especially in one with some pink and blue. Even though his graphic style does not implement too much detail, he is very successful in capturing people’s gestures. It is incredible how just simple shapes and lines give some much expression and motion to the figures and even depth. When he mentioned using photoshop I felt some kind of deception because at the beginning I looked at him as a very spontaneous artist and I thought that he painted very freely without too much thinking but still i found him to very a vey talented and creative artist. His art is very refreshing because he uses mixed media and combines language, symbols, and different cultures. Some of the paintings have Egyptian and Aztec influence, while in others he implements the masks, the ancient ruins, fabrics, and so on. As he explained each of the paintings I was able to see how he relates to his art and the strong influence his background and culture has on his art. Overall I enjoyed his presentation and I admire his dedication. I found him to be a very challenging artist because he is not afraid of experimenting different techniques and materials.

Lisa Schwal said...

There's just something about the way that Carlos employs the use of color. As an illustrator and a lover of pop art, I was fascinated by Carlos and his colol choices and combinations. When peter asked during class whether or not Carlos actually predetermined his colors and his response was "no", i had a newfound respect for him. I am , in a way, envious of Carlos' color scheme and how he employs them. He creates this racially harmonic rainbow world where races mix. The positive and negative space was also intriguing in the fact that I have worked with that particular technique before in my graphic design classes. And those car hoods? The shapes and their originality was mind blowing! How does one decide to paint on a car hood? It was also interesting to hear why his chose the hoods.. .becuase he wanted something that was scrap to once again be reborn into soething else. If i were him, i would move on to bigger and better carhoods.. like bmw.. etc. Perhaps to gain an opposte effect.. The car wasn't scrappy in its lifetime, but you can reflect how a well crafted automobile can become a well crafted piece of art.. something like that.