Mark Villarreal
The strengths I have as an abstract painter come from my education at the Kansas City Art Institute.  During my tenure at KCAI, the painting program’s emphasis was on the figurative discipline.  The department chairman’s ethos was “paint from nature.”
There were two abstract painting studios in the department, but these professors also taught figure drawing. There were heavy doses of, you just don’t make this stuff up  & Good work always comes from direct observation, dispensed to all the painting students.

The work in this show was produced after my first trip to Italy this summer.  My titles reference this trip, a show of John Singer Sargent viewed while returning from Italy and Jazz standards from the 1950’s and 60‘s.

I continue to reevaluate my working process and the formal criteria I rely on. The picture plane is becoming more fluid. There is a greater emphasis towards a reductive attitude in each completed painting and drawing. The works on paper start out covering the floor of my studio.  I then use large Chinese brushes to apply strokes of watercolor. These gestures are the backbone of each drawing.  The paintings start out the same way, on the floor with oil washes applied over the entire surface.

How time is spent in the studio follows the reductive goals of this new work.
I don’t clutter my time with reading or music while painting.  In the past, painting would not start until I had picked out the music for the day. The sounds now are my breathing, the mixing of paint, brushes against canvas and from the neighborhood outside my studio.  On occasion I will pop in a jazz cd as a reward for progress in the studio.

In the last few years I have developed quite an affinity for the work of Arshile Gorky.
While a student, I passed over his delicate brush strokes and washes of color preferring the thick smears and splashes of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.  Now that I am ready to see what he was up to, I am intrigued by how feminine his work is when compared to the swagger of his contemporaries.  For the past four years I am placing greater importance on a delicate line and the quiet application of paint.

- Mark Villarreal, April 2016

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