INTERVIEW: Sebastian Villabona


Colombian artist Sebastian Villabona creates work inspired by photographs of his daily surroundings. Through the visual manipulation of these images, he is able to achieve contrasting shapes and strong symbolism in his paintings. Here he shares more behind his practice with us.

How do you draw inspiration from your surroundings in your practice?

I’m constantly paying attention to my surroundings and the aesthetics of the city, searching for things that visually draw my attention and from there I borrow or take these references as inspirations. From old marks on walls, car/bikes tracks on the asphalt, contrast of soft materials against more rough, grilles or to construction fabrics, etc. Then my phone camera is always a good company, I usually take a lot of photos day to day or I help my memory to save these sources. Then I try to find out how to visually manipulate these references by sketching, drawing, or by doing mark-making before I plan the paintings.

These paintings create an interesting juxtaposition between geometric and organic shapes. How do you explore the tension created by this contrast?

I like the idea of contrasts as a way that both the negative/positive or the black/white exist in the same space. Even if they don’t agree with each other they are interacting and their relationship is what creates spaces and meanings. Some time ago I worked only with geometrical and "perfect" shapes but they became too boring and clean. When I started incorporating more irregular shapes the composition became more interesting and the process more playful. It happens the same when I add textures and more information to the painting, it gives more expression when it’s too flat.

You mention the incorporation of metaphors and symbols in your work, how do you develop their deeper meaning?

I like to relate ideas of our life in my paintings, there is so much we think and experience that can be related to art. For me, abstract art creates a kind of metaphor through the ambiguity of the paintings. Often there is no explicit meaning that the painting could manifest to everyone, it is so much about the viewer’s interpretation. It is the same way in our daily life, in which one thing means to a person may be the opposite of the other.

Could you describe your creative practice in 50 words or less?

What I seek in my practice is playfulness, subjectivity, non-figurative, colorful, dynamic, geometrical, organic, moving, tactile, expressive, bold, accessible, “rightness" and "wrongness", and a balance of symmetry and asymmetry.

What book, movie or video have you read/seen recently that has influenced your work? Why?

I recently saw Contempt from Jean-Luc Godard and I really liked the use of color in the scenes, especially the presence of blue, red and white on clothes, furniture, and objects. It’s very interesting how just with primary colors you can do so much.

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