William Villalongo: Outside My Name or Through Other Eyes
September 11 – October 13, 2017
Artist Talk & Reception: William Villalongo
September 11 from 5 – 6.30 pm, Arena Gallery, UConn Art Building, Storrs, CT
CAG will open the new school year with an exhibition by William Villalongo Outside My Name or Through Other Eyes. The curatorial theme is structured around a beautiful film by the artist that draw parallels and do clarify how in different ways both Picasso’s formalist Cubist approach and how Aaron Douglas’s, (a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance) very distinct illustrative style and political forcefulness are merged within Villalongo’s artwork.
“Between Pablo Picasso and Aaron Douglas is the story of American Modernisms and the essential and underrepresented African-American contribution to that history. For both artists African masks and sculpture were key to unlocking the metaphysics of space. In Douglas’ hands this bore out a new Afrocentric aesthetic proving consequential to how emancipated black folks would begin to imagine themselves.”
Outside My Name or Through Other Eyes, weaves the artist’s aesthetic and social interests together with aspect of Pablo Picasso and Aaron Douglas’s visual vocabulary. Villalongo’s paintings, collage works and prints draw upon the distinct illustrative style and political forcefulness employed by Douglas, a celebrated Harlem Renaissance artist. Also evident is the artist’s creative contextualization and reinterpretation of these Modernist Era Masters’ Formalist experiments, their love of African Art and use of black iconography. Villalongo’s art likewise references Picasso’s sexually charged Bather canvases and his once notorious painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, from 1907.
The curatorial centerpiece of Outside My Name or Through Other Eyes, is Villalongo’s stunning, wall-size projection of his 2012 film, Water Root. The film’s imagery that includes, masks, paintings, paintings being painted and frolicking Nymphs, binds the show’s selected artworks together. Included in the exhibition are a selection of books and periodicals illustrated by Douglas, providing art historical context to the scope of Black representation. By combining past and present work, Outside My Name or Through Other Eyes, projects a more nuanced future.
* The Contemporary Art Galleries exhibition, Outside My Name or Through Other Eyes, is being presented in tandem with William Villalongo’s 2018 Artist Residency with Counterproof Press, our School of Fine Arts press.