Art installations have the power to immerse viewers in an alternate reality more thoroughly than a work on canvas. Encompassing pieces can be built out of wood, steel, fabric, and even water, but artist Leo Villareal chooses light, a bold and challenging choice considering we are surrounded by natural and artificial light all day already. His first solo exhibition at the Pace Gallery in New York, now on view, will likely change how you perceive those ever-present wavelengths.
Villareal’s past site-specific LED installations have ranged from intimate to vast, including The Bay Lights, a 2013 public work of art that spanned—with 25,000 LED lights—the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Another gigantic piece, Multiverse, was a mind-expanding connector between the buildings of Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art. Here in New York, his Stars lit up Brooklyn’s cultural hub, BAM, for a good while.
Villareal likens his work to “digital campfires” in a darkened cave, a surprisingly prehistoric analogy given that all of his light works at Pace pulse, flicker, and dim according to the algorithms of computer code that he wrote himself. The technological control over something as elemental as light lends the work the fertile feel of genesis, as if Villareal entered the unlit space here and declared, “Let there be light,” and what followed was the fireworks of combustible stars.
Why You Should Go: Whether you are a light-art aficionado, would like to Instagram some new beauty, or are simply a fan of immersive experiences, you need to enter this artistic genius’s cosmos.
537 West 24th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues), Chelsea
Through Friday, August 11
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