Vista

Ryan Villamael

In Vista, a series that started in quarantine, the artist mimics the intimacy of the lens of a binocular in order to take himself and the viewer beyond the pandemic moment, and beyond the four walls he shelters in. Ten years after starting a body of work characterized by deliberate handiwork found in cut paper and an emotional response to material, Villamael finds himself reunited with a medium he had rejected in his youth because of financial considerations—painting. Vista becomes the reconciliation of a prior practice and the process that has since built his body of work.

The artist paints imaginary, idealized views of landscape on off-cut paper from prior exhibits. Mementos from a previous, more carefree life, the off-cuts serve as heartbreaking souvenirs, with transportive tiny paintings of Philippine landscapes imagined during a time of great national despair.

RYAN VILLAMAEL, Vista (series), Plate no. 38, Plate no. 43, Plate no. 39, Plate no. 37, Plate no. 42, Plate no. 40 (details)

In quarantine, Villamael’s only respite from the monotony of home were the bike rides he took around Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines and a few minutes away from his family home. Offering a different, almost surrealistic view of landscape, those treks served as a reminder of life’s continuous shifts and the power and fragility that we often take for granted. That routine may have also subconsciously embedded images of the landscape. Spending hours observing environmental changes as a day passes, he was able to document not just the physicality of the landscape but also the feeling of being engulfed by the elements.

While “vista” can mean “a view or prospect, especially one seen through a long, narrow avenue or passage,” it also means “an extensive mental view.” And it’s in the latter definition that Villamael felt affinity with while working on this series. As a result, the works he has created are more emotional than figurative impressions of Laguna de Bay.

RYAN VILLAMAEL, Vista (series) Plate no. 35 (2020) watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper, 3.54h x 5.35w in & Vista (series) Plate no. 36 (2020) watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper, 3.50h x 5w in

In a 2013 interview, the Belgian artist Luc Tuymans said, “We are living in a society that is predominated by an enormous amount of visuals, but they're not really looked at. What painting does is slow that mechanism, which is necessary, so you can also say something about it.” During a time marked by the necessity of slowing down, Villamael found himself gravitating toward the medium again.

Villamael’s work has always been a physical experience—the intricate latticework and gravity-defying paper sculptures that have marked his career thus far. In Vista, he attempts to work in a vacuum almost removed from the physical, from the volcanoes, lakes, and mountains that appear in these paintings and from the gallery-bound installations and sculptures that comprise his oeuvre. In doing so, he attempts to find a space for himself, a space where process can be therapy and art can bring peace.

 

Words by Raymond Ang

 

'Vista' by Ryan

Works

Vista (series) Plate no. 46
2020
3207
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
1
0.00
0
6.54h x 26.97w in
16.60h x 68.50w cm
Details
Vista (series) Plate no. 47
2020
3208
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
6.54h x 26.97w in • 16.60h x 68.50w cm
1
0.00
0
Details
Vista (series) Plate no. 41, 43, and 40
2020
3236
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
2
0.00
0
Plate no. 41 - 9.29h x 11.73w in. (23.6h x 29.8w cm)
Plate no. 43 - 6.46h x 8.39w in. (16.4h x 21.3w cm)
Plate no. 40 - 3.74h x 6.89w in. (9.50h x 17.50w cm)
Details
Vista (series) Plate no. 37 & 45
2020
3204
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
1
0.00
0
- Plate no. 37: 5.24h x 6.81w in. (13.31h x 17.30w cm)
- Plate no. 45: 4.21h x 8.03w in. (10.7h x 20.4w cm)
Details
Vista (series) Plate no. 38 & no. 42
2020
3205
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
1
0.00
0
- Plate no. 38: 8.19h x 9.53w in. (20.80h x 24.21w cm)
- Plate no. 42: 6.30h x 7.09w in. (16h x 18w cm)
Details
Vista (series) Plate no. 44 and 39
2020
3206
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
0
0.00
0
Plate no. 44 - 5.59h x 5.75w in. (14.2h x 14.6w cm)
Plate no. 39 - 5.51h x 9.65w in. (14h x 24.51w cm)
Details
Vista (series) Plate no. 36
2020
3209
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
3.50h x 5w in • 8.89h x 12.70w cm
1
0.00
0
Details
Vista (series) Plate no. 35
2020
3203
3
watercolor on (off-cut) acid free paper
3.54h x 5.35w in • 8.99h x 13.59w cm
1
0.00
0
Details

About

    Ryan Villamael (b. 1987, Laguna; lives and works in Los Baños) is one of the few artists of his generation to have abstained from the more liberal modes of art expression to ultimately resort to the more deliberate handiwork found in cut paper. While his method follows the decorative nature innate to his medium of choice, from the intricately latticed constructions emerge images that defy the ornamental patchwork found in the tradition of paper cutting, and instead becomes a treatise of a unique vision that encompasses both the inner and outer conditions that occupy the psyche—which range from the oblique complexity of imagined organisms to the outright effects of living in a convoluted city.

    Villamael was included in several group shows while still pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Painting from the University of the Philippines up to the time of his graduation in 2009. His works have been shown in Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, Australia, and Paris. Although his persistence in sustaining a discipline more often subjected to handicraft has been evident from his works, Villamael maintains that his primary interest lies rather on the conceptual significance of craft in the process of creating contemporary art, and continues to recognize the possibility of how his works can still evolve under this light.

    He is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Award in 2015 and the three international residency grants funded by the Ateneo Art Gallery and its partner institutions: La Trobe University Visual Arts Center in Bendigo, Australia; Artesan Gallery in Singapore and Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, UK. He participated in the 2018 Biwako Biennale in Japan and 2016 Singapore Biennale.

Ryan Villamael (b. 1987, Laguna; lives and works in Los Baños) is one of the few artists of his generation to have abstained from the more liberal modes of art expression to ultimately resort to the more deliberate handiwork found in cut paper. While his method follows the decorative nature innate to his medium of choice, from the intricately latticed constructions emerge images that defy the ornamental patchwork found in the tradition of paper cutting, and instead becomes a treatise of a unique vision that encompasses both the inner and outer conditions that occupy the psyche—which range from the oblique complexity of imagined organisms to the outright effects of living in a convoluted city.

Villamael was included in several group shows while still pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Painting from the University of the Philippines up to the time of his graduation in 2009. His works have been shown in Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, Australia, and Paris. Although his persistence in sustaining a discipline more often subjected to handicraft has been evident from his works, Villamael maintains that his primary interest lies rather on the conceptual significance of craft in the process of creating contemporary art, and continues to recognize the possibility of how his works can still evolve under this light.

He is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Award in 2015 and the three international residency grants funded by the Ateneo Art Gallery and its partner institutions: La Trobe University Visual Arts Center in Bendigo, Australia; Artesan Gallery in Singapore and Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, UK. He participated in the 2018 Biwako Biennale in Japan and 2016 Singapore Biennale.

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
VG8gZ2FpbiBhY2Nlc3MgdG8gZXhjbHVzaXZlIGdhbGxlcnkgaW5mb3JtYXRpb24sPGJyIC8+CmFzIHdlbGwgYXMgb3VyIGxhdGVzdCBleGhpYml0aW9ucyBhbmQgYXJ0aXN0IHVwZGF0ZXMsPGJyIC8+CnNpZ24gdXAgZm9yIG91ciBuZXdzbGV0dGVyIGJlbG93Lg==