San Francisco

Carlos Villa

Richmond Art Center

Carlos Villa, one of the best painters we have in the Bay Area, recently had a show at the Richmond Art Center. His canvases were not framed or even on stretchers, but were stapled to the walls of the gallery. The paint was sprayed acrylic, and other substances were attached to the canvas: large areas of feathers at the edges of the canvas, fragments of mirror, chicken bones, nails. I particularly liked The Creator’s Gaze, executed in beads, feathers, and acrylic paint.

In many of these paintings the line carries biological overtones, and often suggests the convolutions of the brain or the intestines. Considering Villa’s use of color, and the feathers and bones, these works bring to mind non-Western ritual objects. They are not primitive, but they are not in the conventional progression of art history either. These are rich and beautiful paintings, not easily talked about and not easily forgotten.

Jerome Tarshis