June 17, 2022 to September 03, 2022
Exhibition

Carlos Villa: Roots and Reinvention

Part of a first-ever museum retrospective of iconic San Francisco born Filipino American Artist and Educator, Carlos Villa at San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries and Asian Art Museum

The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery is pleased to partner with the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Art Institute to present the dynamic and inventive work of Filipino American artist and educator, Carlos Villa (1936-2013) starting June 17, 2022.  

This multi-venue exhibition collaboration will take place across two venues, and will celebrate the vibrant work and legacy of Villa, featuring landmark works that explore his immigrant roots, his adaptation of non-Western traditions, and his impact on the art world today.  

Carlos Villa was a first-generation Filipino immigrant born in San Francisco and raised in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The exhibitions give viewers the opportunity to see the work of an artist with deep roots in San Francisco and a deeply influential thinker, activist, and educator. Carlos Villa: Roots and Reinvention at the SFAC Main Gallery highlights Villa’s art from the 1980s and the 1990s, a period of reinvention for Villa. The exhibition presents Villa’s practice at a turning point as he began to shift away from the large abstract works and colorful feathers that he became known for, to works that delve into the history of Filipinos in America, immigration, and his own family archives.  

The exhibition’s chronology begins with Villa’s important performance work Ritual, which took place in 1980 at The Farm in San Francisco. A body cast from the performance and documentation of the performance showcase Villa’s interest in using his body in his practice and exploring ways to engage with performance. Large scale paintings consisting of layers of impressions made by his body speak to the shifting element of performance in his work.  

The works featured reflect on the legacy of the Manong generation, the first generation of Filipino immigrants, who came to the United States. A series of doors feature prominently, harking to the hallways of the International Hotel, a low-income single occupancy residence that was the home to many of the Manong. Elsewhere in the gallery are works that feature photographs from Villa’s family archive as well as poetic phrases and words that evoke the hopes and struggles of many Filipino immigrants in San Francisco.  

Additional exhibitions in the retrospective  
Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision at the Asian Art Museum (June 17 – October 23, 2022) features mostly large-scale artworks created in the 1970s and early 1980s. The highly textured work freely references non-Western sources as well as Villa’s own personal history. Villa drew on African, Asian, and Oceanic art and religion, and he incorporated unexpected materials ranging from hair, spit, and sperm to shells, feathers, mirrors, and silk. He even used his own body and face as a “brush” to impart a kind of signature. 


Image credit: (left) Portrait of Carlos Villa in his studio, 1985. (right) Carlos Villa, Excavation, 1982 (detail). Courtesy of the Carlos Villa Estate. 

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Visual Arts Committee Meeting

May 18
/
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Virtual Meeting
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

June 20
/
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Virtual Meeting
Public Meeting

Full Arts Commission Meeting

June 06
/
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

June 20
/
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Virtual Meeting