Corona (2018) comprises three LED screens containing nearly 25 million pixels, whereas the LED panels feature a drastically reduced pixel pitch. The artist’s use of the triptych underscores the importance of art historical precedent in his work, alluding to a format associated initially with Renaissance altarpieces. Corona explores how the traditional form of the triptych takes on new meaning in a contemporary digital age in which screens proliferate around us in increasingly immersive configurations. Villareal’s mesmerizing patterns expand upon the artist’s fascination with visualizing systems—both their operation and disruption through the distinctive properties of light. The resulting forms move, change, interact, and ultimately grow into complex organisms inspired by the work of English mathematician John Conway. The animated particles of the display rhythmically pulse in radial choreographies that open outward toward the sublime vastness of the universe, the enigmatic world of subatomic particles, and the fundamental properties of living systems.
Leo Villareal (b. 1967) uses LED lights to create complex, rhythmic artworks on scales ranging from stand-alone sculptures to public infrastructure projects. Villareal is known for illuminating entire façades and bridges across the world, subtly reflecting their use, environment, and history through speed, pattern and color. The resulting compositions are unique, generated by custom software that randomly modifies the frequency and intensity of the lights through sequencing. The artist has called his works “digital campfires,” alluding to both their enveloping quality and mesmerizing effect.
Since 2019, Villareal has been working on Illuminated River, his largest project to date. The public light installation, unveiled in stages through 2022, spans 14 bridges in central London, from Albert Bridge in West London to Tower Bridge in the East, unifying them in a single artwork and defining them as a sculptural and symbolic link across the capital. Prior to this, Villareal created a temporary light installation on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco (2013), which became a permanent fixture in the city following a public petition in 2016. Villareal’s work is featured in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, among others.
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