As the gallery announces exclusive worldwide representation of Villalba, it also presents the artist’s first solo exhibition since his death in 2009. Set for Art Paris 2021, the gallery will exhibit Villalbas’s 1960-1970 works under the title of Le réalisme de l’aliénation (The Realism of Alienation ) and curated by Manuel Neves.


Sammer Gallery will promote the legacy of the artist through curated exhibitions at its Miami, Punta del Este and Montevideo gallery spaces (in collaboration with Galería de las Misiones), and through the development of new scholar ship on the artist’s work through publications and international exhibitions.


As stated by Sammer Gallery Director, Ignacio Pedronzo. “We are honored to begin working with the Estate of Virgilio Villalba. I have greatly admired his profoundly engaging work, Villalba was at the vanguard of the concrete group of artists in Buenos Aires in the 40s and 50s but most importantly he reinvented himself when arriving to Paris, the art capital of the world, at the beginning of the 60s. I truly consider this period the most relevant in Villalba’s artistic career, where we can see not only the artist but also the individual trough his interpretation of the new world reality which one can see as a premonition of today’s current social problems such as the isolation of individual, the process of food industrialization and the impersonalization or the anonymous society (a current problematic in today’s social media world)”.



Pedronzo finally added: “We want to extent our gratitude to Virgilio's sons Clemente and Diego for the confidence placed in us and look forward to a constructive partnership . As mentioned before our work with the Estate will begin with a fantastic solo presentation at the Art Paris 2021 art fair edition. Is it clear that the selection of the city of Paris as the place for Villalba’s first exhibition is not casual but as homage to his artistic career in the French capital city.”

The estate is located in Paris and holds his entire production from 1960 till 2009.


Le réalisme de l’aliénation - Virgilio Villalba, works from the 60s and 70s

Manuel Neves

Virgilio Villalba was born in Tenerife (Spain), but when he was three years old his family emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the capital of Argentina he studied at the National School of Fine Arts Prilidiano Pueyrredón, the most important artistic study center in the country at that time.

In this academy a group of students emerged, integrated by Tomás Maldonado, Alfredo Hlito and Claudio Girola, who rebelled against academic conservatism, opening up the future confrontations between figurative and abstract art. This nucleus of creators was, during the second half of the 1940s, the founder of Argentine concrete art, an aesthetic movement within abstract art where Villalba will have an outstanding performance. In this sense, the work produced by the artist during the 40s and 50s is an outstanding example of Latin American concrete art, in which one can recognize characteristic aesthetic elements of European artists like Georges Vantongerloo, Friedrich Vordemberge Gildewart, or one of the most important promoter and theorist of geometric abstraction in the postwar period in Europe, the Swiss Max Bill.


Like many Latin American intellectuals, Villalba emigrated to Europe in the late 50s, thanks to an Oxford University scholarship, escaping from an Argentine social and political context defined by instability and the loss of fundamental freedoms. After spending one year in UK he establishes his residence in Paris.

During the 1960s, the artist underwent a fundamental change in his artistic production, addressing figurative painting and creating a personal work of extreme originality.


The curatorial project, Le réalisme de l'aliénation, Virgilio Villalba, artworks from the 1960s and 1970s, presented by Sammer Gallery at ART PARIS 2021, showcases for the first time a formidable selection of the artworks produced during the decades of the 60s and 70s in Paris by this outstanding French-Argentine artist. In a French context of the rise of Nouveau réalisme (New Realism) and Figuration Narrative (Narrative Figuration), as well as the international apogee of Pop Art, Villalba made a pictorial production where he represents loneliness, impersonalism, anonymity and alienation suffered by the contemporary individual who lives in large cities.


From this original production, most of the works did not have titles, instead the artist relied on the evocative capacity of the images. Yet some do, as is the case of L'attente (The Wait) from 1974. In it, the title defines the oppressive climate of abandonment of the will and existential drift of a person laying on a bed, where we only see his puzzled face watching us.

On the other hand, in the work Dîner sous la coupole, from 1974, which refers to the mythical and bustling restaurant of the Montparnasse neighborhood, we see a person who dines in the solitude of an empty space, a serene metaphor about the isolation of the urban individual.

In the second half of the 70s, his work loses the gestures of the brushstroke and appears cold and impersonal. An outstanding example of this is the 1978 series Alimentation (Alimentation), where the artist presents elements in the manner of a cold scenography, which give an account of the industrialization and dehumanization of contemporary alimentary habits.

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