Artist Statement

Leo Villareal's work is focused on stripping systems down to their essence to better understand the underlying structures and rules that govern how they work. He is interested in lowest common denominators such as pixels or the zeros and ones in binary code. Starting at the beginning, using the simplest forms, Villareal begins to build elements within a framework. The work explores not only the physical but adds the dimension of time combining both spatial and temporal resolution. The resulting forms move, change, interact and ultimately grow into complex organisms that are inspired by mathematician John Conway's work with cellular automata and the Game of Life. 

Villareal seeks to create his own sets of rules and central to his work is the element of chance. The artist's goal is to create a rich environment in which emergent behavior can occur without a preconceived outcome. He is an active participant in the process through the careful selection of compelling sequences. These selections are then further refined and layered through simple operations such as addition, subtraction and multiplication. 

Parameters like opacity, speed and scale are also manipulated through the artist's custom software, creating compositions that are displayed in random order and for a random amount of time. Ultimately, the visual manifestation of code in light is at the core of Villareal's interest.

Biography

Villareal has created many site specific works including: Light Matrix for the Auckland Theater Company, in Auckland, New Zealand; Volume (Frisco),  at the Dallas Cowboy’s Headquarters in Frisco, Texas; Buckyball at The NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX; Light Matrix at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Volume (Renwick), for the Renwick Gallery at Smithsonian in Washington DC, Radiant Pathways, Rice University in Houston, Texas; Cosmos, at the Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Multiverse, The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Diagonal Grid, Borusan Center for Culture and Arts, Istanbul, Turkey; Stars, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York, and Hive, for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at the Bleecker Street subway station in Manhattan.

Villareal's work is in the permanent collections of many museums including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY;  Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, Kagawa, Japan;  Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

On March 5, 2013 Villareal inaugurated The Bay Lights, a monumental 1.8-mile-long installation of 25,000 white LED lights on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge which has since become a permanent installation.

In December of 2016 the Illuminated River Foundation announced the selection of Villareal’s artistic vision, for London’s 15 bridges spanning the River Thames.

Artist CV

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1994 New York University, M.P.S. Tisch School of the Arts, Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

1990 Yale University, B.A.

Solo Exhibitions

2017

Leo Villareal, Pace Gallery, New York, NY

2016

Spacetime, Fused Space, San Francisco, CA

2014

Buckyball, Sandra Gering Gallery, New York, NY

2013

Digital Sublime, Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery, Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2012
New Works, Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, DC

2011
Volume, Gering & López Gallery, New York, NY

2010

Leo Villareal: Survey, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, traveling to the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV, Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA, and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI
 Leo Villareal: Recent Works, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL
San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA

Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL

2009
 Galeria Javier Lopez, Madrid, Spain

2008
 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, DC

2007
Gering and Lopez Gallery, New York, NY

2006
 Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, DC 

2005
 Galeria Javier Lopez, Madrid, Spain
Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA 

2004
 Sandra Gering Gallery, NY
Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, DC 

2003
Finesilver Gallery, San Antonio, TX 

2002
 Sandra Gering Gallery, NY
Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, DC 

Cosmos, 2012 LEDs, custom software, electrical hardware Site specific installation: Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Cosmos2012

LEDs, custom software, electrical hardware
Site specific installation: Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


Buckyball, 2016 LEDs, metal, custom software & electrical hardware Installed: NorthPark Center, Dallas TX

Buckyball, 2016

LEDs, metal, custom software & electrical hardware

Installed: NorthPark Center, Dallas TX


Threshold (1801K), 2008 LEDs, custom software & electrical hardware, glass Commissioned by Somerset Partners

Threshold (1801K), 2008

LEDs, custom software & electrical hardware, glass

Commissioned by Somerset Partners


Untitled, 2015 LEDs, acrylic, custom software & electrical hardware

Untitled, 2015

LEDs, acrylic, custom software & electrical hardware


Primordial, 2014 LEDs, acrylic, custom software & electrical hardware

Primordial, 2014

LEDs, acrylic, custom software & electrical hardware