JUNE 15 - AUGUST 17 2019

automate, 31 x 24 cm

How to find one’s way in Júlio Villani’s gentle labyrinth? There certainly must be many possible ways to do it, but one of them is to do the opposite of Ariadne’s method, and to follow a thread not to get out, but rather to penetrate, ever further, into the heart of this maze of artworks with a wide range of appearances. One could follow one of the very material threads that the artist has smuggled in from other realms: sewing thread or yarn, strings and rods, belts and wires, sometimes accompanied by spools, spindles or stools that suggest sewing machines; in all these cases, they are threads that arise from vernacular practices which Villani simultaneously incorporates and displaces. Or one could choose to follow the path of the very thin threads consisting of the lines drawn on the surface of the paper or the canvas, a clue that will lead us to drawing as the fundamental gesture of Villani’s work, whether in two or three dimensions. With one caveat, however: here, the drawing is not the traditional, demiurgic gesture that gives rise to creatures based on the formless material of a canvas or blank sheet of paper. Rather, the threads and lines traced out by Villani serve to connect (link, tie, bind), to suggest constellations of beings, shapes, regions of experience that previously seemed entirely separate. They are constellations, not constructions: the opposite of hierarchies, they are driven by memory and by eroticism, not hesitating to change dimensions and purposes, to throw the aligned into disarray, to convert writing into drawing, to ransom the scraps of things, giving them a new life that is both unstable and superlative – often, literally hanging by a thread. The operation is a complex one, and each “insight” or “lucky find” comes from a long process of synthesis. It is the synthesis of an artistic training that spans from surrealism to the avant-gardes of the 1960s and 1970s, but which also involves the recovery of a certain Brazilian art and a past that is both personal and from a smaller city in the country’s interior; in short, the combination of the boy from Marília with the artist from Paris. On second thought, why leave a labyrinth where there are so many doors to be opened?

Samuel Titan