Here, we ask an artist to frame the essential details behind one of their latest works.
Bio: Jean-Pierre Villafañe, 29, New York (@jeanpierre.villafane)
Title of work: Midnight Menagerie (2022)
Where to see it: Embajada Gallery (354 Cil Fernando Primero, San Juan).
Three words to describe it: Cosplay, deviance, voyeurism.
What was on your mind at the time: Eternal nights, flirty chats, glassy martinis, velvet curtains, burgundy carpets, smoky chandeliers, red lights, rusty lamps, camera flash, a wet piano, dark hallways, copper-stained mirrors, patchouli bathrooms, lively restrooms, guilty shots of bourbon, nicotine-covered wallpapers, crowded stairs, the deep bass of music beating through the burnt parquette, theatrical figures dressed in costumes and bare outfits dancing above it, glowing cheeks, smokey eyes, rosy lips, loose hair, curly heads, chokers, ties, black pumps, stiletto heels, tights, garters, and elegant purses filled with nightly curiosities.
An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: By drawing underlying geometries of luminous shapes, bodies emerge and entangle to create humorous satirical identities. Dancing choreographies of lines and shapes lie before oblique forms intended to distort perspectives and the reality we inhabit. The architectural language becomes mirrored in dramatically grotesque and delirious bodily features. Painterly speaking, the work mingles with transparent shades of the same hue beneath opaque impasto strokes to bring forward the idea of cosplay.
How it reflects your practice as a whole: Consciously and sometimes subconsciously, I deploy recollected gestures, color, and motion related to my immediate surroundings to theatrically reconstruct the built space by recomposing fragments from memory. Departing from my architectural foundation, I draw compositions using my training as a draftsman, which lies behind the calligraphic line that bends and lifts in a balletic motion like a human choreography in an endless dance through space. With this action, I record a desire to be taken by surprise and arrive at an image that would otherwise not be predictable.
One song that captures its essence: John Coltrane – Live at the Village Vanguard – Chasin’ The Trane.