In life and art, Paul Villinski explores flight. As a glider pilot, he sails the skies. As an artist, he coaxes clouds of aluminum butterflies into lyrical orbit. For this exhibition, the artist has selected recent work that pushes beyond what has been shown in previous installations at the Tayloe Piggott Gallery, in terms of scale and ambition. He has also compiled pieces that evoke a feeling of the West and the Frontier, with weathered, salvaged materials as the support for his transcendent butterflies.
Attuned to environmental issues, Villinski repurposes discarded materials into art objects: beer and soda cans; vinyl records; musical instruments; shipping pallets. He painstakingly, lovingly guides these mundane materials into flight.
I try to practice a "simple alchemy," attempting to give these cast-off, "worthless" objects surprising new identities, to infuse their stories with new layers of meaning. The beauty that interests me most comes through the struggle to bring things from a place of loss, poverty, despair, into a new life -- to insist on the possibility of transformation. – Paul Villinski
The most striking example of this transformation is a life-sized horse composed of hundreds of pieces of wood reclaimed from discarded shipping pallets and over 200 white butterflies. Creating a horse at this scale had long been a dream of the artist, forcing him to push the limits of construction. Two additional large-scale works will anchor Beyond – “Burst, 2014”, in which hundreds of birds fashioned from the artist’s vinyl record collection take flight, and “Marfa, 2014”, featuring a salvaged ladder, door and chair caught in a balancing act with hundreds of swirling, charred butterflies.
Born in York, Maine in 1960, Paul Villinski started his education at the Phillips Exeter Academy, followed by the Massachusetts College of Art and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He moved to New York City in 1982, and now lives with his partner, painter Amy Park, and their son in a studio in Long Island City. Villinski has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has been an artist-in-residence at many prestigious institutions including Wyoming’s Ucross Foundation. His works hang in many public and private collections including the Museum of Arts and Design, NY; Miami International Airport, FL; University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital, MI; Tommy Hilfiger Flagships, NY and Paris, France; and Fidelity Investments, NY. He recently completed a major commissioned piece for the New York City Percent for Art Program, titled “SkyCycles.” Recent solo exhibitions include “Paul Villinski: Burst” at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX and “Passage: A Special Installation” at the Blanton Museum, University of Texas, Austin; a retrospective exhibition at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke, VA is slated to open June, 2017.