Morgan Lehman is pleased to present Passage, a solo exhibition by Paul Villinski.
If you’ve ever traveled through Long Island City and found yourself driving over flattened beer cans duct-taped to the street, you have unknowingly participated in the making of one of Paul Villinski’s artworks. The artist’s primary materials are the common detritus and trash found walking the streets of his neighborhood. From these lowly beginnings, a flattened aluminum can becomes a delicate, life-size butterfly; and broken bits of a wooden shipping pallet become a graceful airplane suspended in flight.
Villinski’s work operates at the juncture of biographical, aesthetic and ideological concerns. The son of an Air Force navigator, he took an early interest in the romance and mechanics of flight, and became an avid glider pilot later in life. Growing up amidst the counter-culture revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, Villinski became active in social and environmental causes. As an artist, these varied influences inform his practice on both material and conceptual levels.
For Passage, his second solo exhibition at Morgan Lehman Gallery, he will show a single work: a glider plane with a thirty-three foot wingspan, fabricated from recycled and repurposed wood the artist salvaged from discarded shipping pallets, police line barriers, broken furniture, and construction sites around the city. Enveloping the life-sized glider is a cloud of 1,000 black butterflies; a motif the artist is widely known for and which has been prominent in his work for over 15 years. The blackened hues come from pure carbon – essentially “painting” with candle soot – but the winged creatures are far from monochromatic as they change color under varying light and the colors of the source material – aluminum cans collected from the streets – peek through. Each butterfly is painstakingly shaped to represent one of dozens of different species, and the obsessive, hand-made process means that no two butterflies are exactly alike. The ephemeral and elegant final result of Villinski’s labor-intensive process is one that celebrates the beauty, resilience and ingenuity of both nature and man.
Paul Villinski was born in Maine and has lived and worked in New York City since graduating from Cooper Union in 1984. His work has been included in more than 100 exhibitions nationally, recently including “Second Lives: Re-mixing the Ordinary” at the Museum of Arts and Design (New York, NY) and “Prospect .1”, an international Biennial in New Orleans, LA. “Emergency Response Studio,” a FEMA trailer redesigned and rebuilt into a solar-and wind-powered mobile artist’s studio, was the subject of a solo exhibition at Rice University Art Gallery (Houston, TX), which then traveled to Ballroom Marfa (Marfa, TX), Wesleyan University’s Zilkha Gallery (Middletown, CT), and was included in the New Museum’s” Festival of Ideas for the New City” this summer in Lower Manhattan. Villinski’s work is consistently reviewed in major publications including the New York Times, ArtForum, Art in America, the LA Times, and the Wall Street Journal. His work is widely collected; including large public works created by commission, and is in numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Arts & Design (New York, NY), The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA).
Accompanying the exhibition is a 48-page color catalog with an essay by David Revere McFadden.
For more information, please visit morganlehmangallery.com, or contact the gallery at 212.268.6699