Known for irreverent riffs on the art historical “muse,” William Villalongo has made episodic paintings and works on paper, which underscore historical erasure and master narratives of desire. In his fifth solo exhibition at Susan Inglett Gallery, the artist turns his attention to the black male figure, while returning to his signature cut velvet paper works.
This new body of work suggests a re-imagining of the black male figure at a time when current events and statistics reflect a social reality of limited expectations, contingency, and disproportionate fear. Within the dark tones of these meditations on physiology, the artist uses metaphors of invisibility, nature, and reformation as necessary conditions of being. Much like fallen autumn leaves, Villalongo’s men navigate their world, subject to an unpredictable wind - piling, spinning, and re-collecting. The work conjures spaces of sensuality, humor, and history. Titled after Curtis Mayfield’s 1970 “Keep on Pushing,” Villalongo’s recent body of work speaks to the inherent human spirit’s will to persevere and to find a way.