The Order of the Imaginary is, in the words of the exhibition’s subtitle, “a form of retrospective” of Guillermo Pérez Villalta’s work, mounted on the occasion of the artist’s move to Galería Javier López & Fer Francés, and it gathers work ranging from older pieces and series to examples of his more recent output. Works on paper and drawings are the main areas of focus in the show, which brings together some of the largest and most ambitious cycles undertaken by the artist in recent decades, works which it would be hard to view in a private space that did not have the architectural scope of this gallery.
Thus, the visitor can contemplate the twelve pieces that make up Villalta’s Zodiaco (1991), a magnificent series of drawings created when he was commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Andalucian Pavilion at the 1992 Expo in Seville, where the artist relates the twelve labours of Hercules to the signs of the zodiac in a display of creative cross-reference between myth and symbol. Along with this, another series of special note is his imaginative reading of Gulliver’s Travels, Los Viajes de Gulliver (2005), traced through a hundred illustrations, which were commissioned by the Círculo de Lectores in the mid-2000s.
The selection is rounded out by unpublished drawings on board that respond to specific moments in the history of pop music with unexpected irony; a series of works in watercolour and tempera, in playful and irregular format; and—among the various examples of painting that give a point of support for this presentation of the place of drawing in the achievements of Pérez Villalta’s career, explaining how it relates to the “final” images—the exhibition includes some of the most recent landscapes, part of his current projects, alluding to classical, Mediterranean and metaphysical themes.
The exhibition as a whole, therefore, aims to outline an arc that, if not complete, is at least a representative and shows the origin of the artist’s interests today, offered in the manner of oblique view across his work in the last quarter century. The wayward eclecticism with which he faces the creation of each image and, in this sense, his continual and wise rereading of historical styles; his impassioned defence of ornament and the applied arts as stimuli for the imagination or, more accurately, for the order of the imaginary; his attention to traditions, names, the neglected branches of offical good taste; the freedom from inhibition that mixes iconography and biography, always giving primacy to pleasure and whim; in short, his radical and uncompromising aesthetic independence, sustained against the current of fashion, are represented magnificently in this selection and show, where the intention is for the works to enter subtle but clear dialogues with each other to emphasize the artist’s rich character and his boundless curiosity about all manifestations of the human spirit and especially culture.
Ó. A. M. [Madrid, April 2016]