“I try to practice a simple alchemy, attempting to give these cast-off, “worthless” objects surprising new identities, to infuse their stories with new layers of meaning. The beauty that interests me most comes from the struggle to bring things back from a place of loss… into a new life – to insist on the possibility of transformation.”
Growing up on a US military airbase, Paul Villinski was captivated by the world of aviation. His childhood was lulled by stories of planes, model aircrafts and a fascination for the sky, which never completely left him. He then became a pilot and could not step outside without contemplating the sky and daydreaming. His work is strongly anchored in this universe.
In the 1990s, Paul Villinski aspired to address the topic of addiction in his works, and it was at this time that he began to recover cans in the street. Often crushed, flattened, damaged, broken or irreparable, he sees in these cans a metaphor for drug addiction and effects created by it.
Using the motive of the butterfly, Paul Villinski conveys a message of hope and compassion in his work. As a commentary on the origin of beauty, his artwork reach the visitor through a visual experience that he cannot turn away from, almost under hypnosis. Fascinated by the intrinsic logic and visual rhythm of nature, he accidentally constructs his compositions and attempts to remove all visible action from the human touch. Of an undeniable beauty, his installations are thoughtful, yet not calculated. His work discusses both materialism and consumerism in the choice of materials used, but also environmental concerns through the patterns depicted. In his most recent works, Paul Villinski advocates for the threatened or endangered butterfly species. In installations like Ghost (2014), where butterflies are painted in white, one can distinguish forms only by the shadows they carry on the wall. The artist leads us to see the possible (and probable) consequences of our actions on nature’s systems and what inhabits them.
Born in Maine in the United States in 1960, Paul Villinski now lives and works in Long Island, New York. Educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, followed by the Massachusetts College of Art and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, he then moved to New York City in the early 1980s. His work has been shown at numerous exhibitions throughout the United States, including at the University of Texas Blanton Museum in Austin, the Montgomery Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design of New York, and Prospect New Orleans Biennale, to name only a few. Paul Villinski's work can be found in several museums, corporate and private collections in the United States, including the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, the Caesar's Palace of Las Vegas, and several others. Paul Villinski also has many commissioned projects to his credit. His studio recently completed SkyCycles, work with three gigantic flying bicycles, as part of the New York City Percent for Art Program. In 2017, Paul Villinski had a solo exhibition at the Taubman Museum of Art.