Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce On the Road, an exhibition of recent work by French artist Stéphane Villafane, on view in March. Villafane transforms his canvases into contemplative journeys through space and time, stepping beyond the bounds of narrative subject matter.
His passage through a particular landscape sets his painting process in motion: “Before starting to paint in my studio, I need to go for a walk or take to the road, which acts as a doorway to my creative process.” Travel journals filled with notes and drawings chronicle his felt experiences, while photographs act as references for qualities of light and color. These tools, however, are merely distant precursors to his final compositions, which require the alchemy of detachment and rumination.
Villafane’s aim is therefore never to reproduce the physical contours of the landscape but rather to bring forth the immaterial whirl of thoughts, feelings, and sensations roiling behind the veil of the visible—a realm accessible only through a deeper level of awareness and imagination. On canvas, the result is a sense of space that could be said to be non-dual: that is, at once full and empty, organic and constructed, meditative, immersive, concrete, ethereal. These are spaces “in perpetual transformation, without consistency, without duration, undulating slowly and calmly in an ‘other’ light.”
A trained architect, Villafane creates confident and complex compositions. In them, we can see parallels with the earliest phases of Cubism—which utilized multi-perspectival approaches and understated, modulated colors—as well as certain sub-movements within Abstract Expressionism concerned with spatial illusionism and color fields. His paintings find the greatest resonance with the Beat Generation’s emphasis on the journey and exploration of different realms of consciousness. Both navigate through an emotional and conceptual landscape that sits behind the physical, seeking meaning in the transient and the overlooked. This shared interest extends further, into the rhythm and spontaneity of his compositions, which echo the free-flowing, improvisational style of Beat poetry.
Ultimately, Villafane seeks a deeply human approach that opens up new fields of vision by moving us closer to both the natural world and our spirit, from which we have become so far removed.
Born in France, in 1969, Stéphane Villafane earned his graduate degree in architecture while also specializing in the visual arts. He has exhibited in France, Spain, England, and Jordan. This is his first solo exhibition in the United States and at Dolby Chadwick Gallery.