In Heavy Light, Jon-Paul Villegas's second solo exhibition at Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, the artist continues his practice of formally arranging heady mixtures of pedestrian objects, manipulated craft and construction materials, and found and self-authored text to create visual constructions that place the viewer at the center of an ordered sprawl of competing information. Often describing his output as aspiring to a state of "visual weather", Villegas creates clouds of signifiers out of solid objects and a surrounding array of textual, and two-dimensional imagistic cues. Through the tongue-in-cheek transformation of oftentimes coarse, humble materials, Villegas seeks to form a brief, uneasy truce with the crap of our lives while engaging in a simultaneous Arte Povera style critique of the fetishized materials and practices that haunt the history of elite art production.
The title refers jointly to the artist's preoccupation with the visual properties of solid objects, as well as to the material form of his most recent work; small constructions of shattered glass, found on sidewalks in Brooklyn and thrift stores in Los Angeles, which the artist has painstakingly re-glued together with red-pigmented craft glue to form architectural models based on themes of collision, fragmentation and disaster. The small sculptures are at once beautifully airy and seductively bloody, like little glass buildings made of violently broken frames.
Also featured are new text paintings; language based "nudes" culled from a thriftstore-purchased bible of Hollywood nude scenes, whose luridly detailed descriptions of Tinseltown stars and starlets in various states of deshabille run the gamut from disturbing to iconic to comic.
Villegas received his BA from Stanford University and his MFA from California College of the Arts; he currently lives and works in New York City. His work hasbeen shown at Rockefeller Center, the Bergen Museum of Art and Science, the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Southern Exposure, NewLangton Arts, and the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art. His work was most recently featured in Artists of Invention: A Century of CCA at the Oakland Museum of California.