Firmly rooted in abstraction, Leo Villareal’s works utilize LED lights and custom software to translate the layered and sequential logic of systems into beguiling visual experiences.

Pace Gallery are delighted to present the first solo-exhibition of works by American artist Leo Villareal at Pace in London. The exhibition coincides with the recent launch of Villareal’s Illuminated River, a major public artwork that upon completion, will illuminate 14 bridges along the Thames.

Firmly rooted in abstraction, Villareal’s works utilize LED lights and custom software to translate the layered and sequential logic of systems into beguiling visual experiences. The works in the exhibition exist at the vanguard of digital technology while drawing on a history of practices engaged with mass imagery, mechanical reproduction, and the materiality of light. For his exhibition at Pace, Villareal expands these legacies across a body of new and recent work, which include three new LED works of varying scales alongside six single-panel pieces from the Instance series (2018), as well as Corona (2018), a triptych of OLED screens. The works expand upon the artist’s fascination with visualizing systems—both their operation and disruption, through the phenomenal properties of light.

 

At the center of the exhibition is Detector (2019), a monumental work that spans over ten metres and features undulating fields of patterned luminescence, suggesting the sifting of stars, galaxies, and other astral phenomena. Signals penetrate through fields of noise as clusters of particles expand and collide, conjuring antipodal forms from the cosmic to the atomic. Two works flank Detector, titled Optical Machine I & II, and serve as portals into the visual manifestation of Villareal’s rule-based software, which engages chance through the concepts and computational techniques of artificial life and emergent behaviour. Employing a highly synthetic process, Villareal’s works nevertheless echo the ubiquitous systems that produce organic behaviors found throughout nature.

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Header image: Leo Villareal, Untitled, 2019, LEDs, custom software, electrical hardware, steel, 10′ 6″ × 37′ 10″ × 3″ (320 cm × 1,153.2 cm × 7.6 cm) © Leo Villareal