press release

Jennifer Bacon and Filippo Fossati are pleased to announce the opening of Esso Gallery’s first solo exhibition by William Villalongo. entitled “Innervisions”.

Titled after the 1973 album by Stevie Wonder, this show presents an introspective body of new work. Reflecting upon both the album’s prophetic lyrics that shout visions of hope in the face of the world’s iniquities and the power of recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina to reveal that what nature gives it will surely take back.

“Like the surrealists, Villalongo might also believe that exorcising the imaginative faculties of the “unconscious mind” to the attainment of a dream-like state can be ultimately ‘truer’ than, everyday reality. Also, like the Surrealists in the wake of the first World War, Villalongo also believes that a more open and true perception of reality can provoke change—political, social and most importantly, personal.” states Franklin Sirmans.

The work of Villalongo is multidimensional both on the surface as well as in its contents. Encrusted with gold leaf, cut paper, and sometimes, an artificial bird on black velvet, the thick surface of the work has a subversive aesthetic. In most of his paintings, black velvet controls the pictorial plane. Against black velvet, unearthly objects in bold colors jump out. Villalongo says, “I make velvety paintings and drawings that crawl and slice forth from their decadent black material spaces. They express visions of the body’s negotiation of an ever mutating natural and spirit world. ”

Villalongo’s intention is to reveal the world’s source and origin where the world in now or in the future is relevant. “Vision is the thing that allows us to see outside ourselves, while seeing the totality of ourselves. Every experience, scent, touch, word and color or words informs this vision. When it is mobilized with sound, or color movement or taste or scent through creativity, that vision is freed and illuminated for others. This is the place where tectonic shifts in reality can be seen, ” quotes Matthew Day Jackson. In Villalongo’s velvety paintings bodily parts become a garden, an enclosed space, a thick night opens to a sea to appear in an infinite mind of splendorous ecstatic dreams.

William Villalongo lives and works in New York. He holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University. A 2006 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Award, his work has been featured in museums and galleries though out the U. S. including: “Frequency” at The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; PS1’s “Greater New York” Exhibition; The Ballroom, Marfa, TX; Jones Center for Contemporary Art, Austin, TX, and Franklin Artworks, Minneapolis, MN, which hosted his first solo exhibition entitled “How The West Was Won”.


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William Villalongo