Flatland : Ryan Villamiel
The deserted articles that make up a city—tangled wires, open ditches, vines and branches creeping from abandoned corners—are according to Ryan Villamael the same objects that will conquer our landscape.
In his third solo exhibition, he collects the images, memories, and impressions culled from the scenes he describes as an ‘unpredictable turbulent atmosphere’ inherent to the city and weaves them together into his work.
With the present subject, he has come to conjure more elements and combine new approaches than in any of his previous shows, adding more life to the organism that has developed from the same cell—the evolution from mere paper. His works emerge as complex as the downtown streets of Manila and yet as fragile as a membrane.
It carries with it the same sense of awe a child gets when unfolding a paper cutout, revealing a grand design. Then he cuts across borders by employing other techniques: by adding color, collage, and stitching them together and elevating them from the surface to create a relief. With some, he undermines the sensation of symmetry by splitting the cutouts apart, divorcing them from each other and framing them separately, like severed limbs caught in the arbitrariness of their own existence.
Villamael’s new works of paper cutouts continue to characterize his essentialist approach to art making, and flags the idea that pigment and excess rule his generation’s field of expression.
But what separates Ryan’s art from the lot is not just his method which has the forbearing of mere craft, but the translation of this craft into an inimitable vision, and how he has pushed its boundaries to elevate it into new forms.
With FLATLAND, he has brought the art of paper cutting within the spectrum of mastery, modernity, and at the forefront of originality in contemporary art. / Text by Cocoy Lumbao