In Villalongo’s work, women are often depicted building home or community through self-empowering rituals of art making. Replete with whimsical, erotically charged scenes, the boundaries of art and nature, illusion and reality converge. Starting from the silhouetted borders, the surface of the work acts as a window into another world, where traditional concepts of art, history, the classical female, cultural stereotyping, and not least the male gaze are all skewed and reimagined. These frolicking nymphs set in “classical” wooded glades, iridescent pools, and leafy bowers set the stage for the voyeuristic (male) gaze on the female prototype, in this case an exotic “other.” But these are not passive nymphs. Rather, they return the gaze in full power of the situation, masking their faces with the icons of western modernism, creating their own new histories and mythologies.

If You Build It

  • Water Root, 2012
    HD BlueRay. Running time 6:53. Edition of 5. Courtesy of the artist and Susan Inglett Gallery.

The video Water Root relates to community survival and belief while conveying the process of making as a way of living. Connections between African masks and abstract painting will be discussed in a mask-making workshop. Please see exhibition calendar for details.