Leo Villareal: Escape Velocity

Art
Recommended
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A light show without meaning

From now until September 7th, Pace Gallery at H Queen’s is showcasing ‘Escape Velocity’ by Leo Villareal, the American’s first solo show in Asia. A New York-based light artist, Villareal has utilised LED lights in his work for more than a decade, using pixels and binary codes to create random animations. Heavily influenced by neon light artist Dan Flavin and the theories of British mathematician John Conway, Villareal’s technological oeuvre is characterised by illuminated displays made with the aid of computer programs that he writes himself.

This exhibition features three large cloud drawings, three small cloud drawings as well as three 4K OLED triptychs entitled Evanescence, Floating Bodies and Corona. The gallery space itself is dark and bare, so your eyes are instinctively drawn to each light display. Take one of the artist’s famous Cloud Drawings for example. It’s no larger than a regular canvas, with linear strings of fluorescent light tubes running vertically. It’s not a complicated design, but it’s hard to not to be entranced by the unpredictable light patterns. The more you gaze on Villareal’s work, the further you fall into his abyss. Are they ripples or raindrops? Either way, Villareal invites you to find patterns within randomness, all the while suggesting natural phenomenon, whether twinkling stars, a setting sun or the gentle lapping of waves on the shore.

The same goes for the New Mexico native’s triptychs, which take on much darker backdrops, each one spread across three panelled screens. Evanescence features much slower animations than the other works and employs a more dramatic metamorphosis. It looks like a constellation and there’s a calming, soothing attitude evoked. With Villareal though, it’s never a clear answer, so it’s up to the viewer to create his or her own meaning. Karl Lam

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