There is little doubt that we are today presented with the most intense and mature expressions of Villa's artistic personality.
Villa shows his Heraldic figure IV to Miss Wendy Dax and then puts it on its stand.
Various shots of Heraldic figure IV.
Various shots of Heraldic figure III.
Various shots of heraldic figure I. 2 angles last low
Machine sound a mounted piece.
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Background: There is little doubt that we are today presented with the most intense and mature expressions of Villa's artistic personality.
His works display here have a profound sense of actuality, a definite value of revelation of today's inner ferments of mankind.
I should like to link the message of this exceptional artist with certain developments which have taken shape in the field of plastic art both in Europe and America in the last few years.
His originality and independence are however maintained by the extraordinary strength of his plastic instinct, and his exuberant creativeness.
For some time we have witnessed the progressive weakening of abstract art. In recent times it had become clear that this movement, in its two main streams - geometric and "informal" - had reached the dead end of an inert academicism.
Amongst the various groups of artists who felt the urgency of discovering fresh and more vital ways of communication, by reverting to what is called "neo-realism"; perhaps the most interesting efforts come from the "neo-Dada", the assemblers of fragments of man's environment.
This looking back to the movement of Marcel Duchamp has by no means the significance of a nostalgic resipiscence. Today's Dada has required a new dimension through the complete freedom and the wealth of technique which are the direct inheritance of many decades of abstract art.
The latest production of Villa can be aligned to the Dada movement insofar as he collects from the scrap of the workshop the words for his message. Unlike for example Kemeny, who use them in endless repetition, creating modulated surfaces, hinting a continuity beyond their material limits, Villas scrap goes through the elaborate process of his invention, every piece is carefully selected, adjusted with a surprising sureness to the harmony if his talk, put into position in the perfectly balanced structure which assumes immediately a life and a proportion of its own, and defines a precise quantity of space as a basic element of its own existence. The Dada of Villa therefore departs from the orthodox assumption of the "ready mades", because the selected object as often completely reborn to the point of dissolving its primary essence.
And the sculpture assumes at the end the mystery of transhuman fetish, or the subtle consistence of an anthropomorphic tale.
This magic sense of the human representation has followed Villa's production through the years almost without exception, so that we could hardly talk of him as of pure non-figurative. But it takes a clearer importance in the works displayed here, especially in the latest ones, so that we can attempt to link to certain artists of the magic stream, like the English sculptor Paolozzi, or the Italian painter Bay or the French Dubuffet. With the basic difference that Villa's images do not rely on the decay of the materials to evoke the feeling of magic, as in Dubuffet, nor in the contrast of sumptuous and horrid as in Bay. He communicates his vision with absolute plastic purity, and the human references remain almost unnoted as they exist only in function of their artistic condition, thus reaching our imagination in advance of our reason, with a surrealistic power of dreamlike evocation, projecting our thoughts into the rarefied world the subconscious. Off the assembly line roll with prodigious speed and precision the tools for the line of modern man, machines, gadgets, instruments for pleasure and comfort, to be swallowed by the intense hedonism of our age.
Villa collects the waste of this activity, with love and passion, he polishes, he bends, he welds, he assembles his own machines, articulated for no material bend, but in the attempt to disperse the anguish of man, his sense of insecurity, and to support his soul with a message of poetry. His creatures enjoy the feeling of permanence which we seek in despair: they are pervaded with the stability which we sense is behind the horror of our lives with no definite spiritual values.
Sections of pipe, pieces of plate, segments of rod and strip, witness of our technical time are assembled by him with amazing skill to materialize his poetic vision: a statement of beauty and harmony born of man's mechanical mania.
His creatures are constructions of architectural quality. They stand projected in space with a definite sense of invented equilibrium, small man-like castles, robots with human likeness, yet, at the same time being places to live in. There are steps to climb, planes, recessions, ridges, where man can consummate his existence, sharp thorns and acute fins directed outward for attack, bent inward for protection.
And buttons and lips and nose and eyes: those human features which stand at the dividing edge of tragedy and mockery. These pagan fetishes are suspended in the precarious condition between man and machine, between soul and matter, between reason and dream. They exist because of their aesthetic quality, and through it they offer a hope to man of discovering truth - thus reaching peace and continuity.