Drawn by the endless offerings of painting as a medium, Mitchell Villa’s work inhabits an area of hybridity which invokes the contemporary by employing and reinterpreting the historical. His process begins months before his brush makes the initial mark on his canvas, with each composition beginning in a singular idea. Rooted in the expression of figurative painting, Villa draws from a variety of art historical movements, including the Rococo and Baroque, to underpin both his aesthetic modalities and conceptual leanings. His paintings develop in a series of sketches, studies, and collages, and transition into painstakingly detailed photoshoots using live models and props whereby Villa articulates his specific vision for his larger-than-life paintings by hand-selecting each element of the composition. This methodology results in a familiar, yet surreal sensibility verging on the excessive.
Villa’s subject matter is deeply personal: his thoughts, experiences, and feelings boiled down to images in his head. He approaches painting without an agenda, moving away from meaning-making and letting his subconscious filter his practice. Although detailed, his painterly and fluid style evokes a sense of memory, buttressing the subconscious leanings of his works. Viewing one of Villa’s monumental paintings, with their familiar yet jarring references to old masters, is nostalgic and recalls the imagery of feverish dreams: watery, yet imbued with vibrant movement, layered with fantastical, intuitive archetypes, bridging the gaps between what is real and what is remembered. This sense of chaotic escapism, moves the viewer away from the mundane, and acts, as Villa puts it, “as a shot of espresso rather than sleepy-time tea.”
Mitchell Villa is a self-taught artist residing on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.