I first saw Leo Villareal’s mesmerising works in May 2017 in the semi-industrial spaces of the PACE Gallery near the High Line in New York, where his work responded to the different volumes of the gallery spaces. PACE in London is more challenging given it is less quirky, but Leo Villareal blows the space apart as you stand and watch his mesmerising works unfold. You transport away from Mayfair out into outer space as you stand and watch the images move, rotate, twist, transform and blast out across the walls.
You enter, either from Burlington Gardens, or from inside the Royal Academy, and ahead of you is the immense and constantly changing work ‘Optical Machine’. From a distance you see constantly changing patterns; close up you see the pin points of light which are the basic building blocks of the works. Villareal is the master of LED lighting manipulation, which has been recognised by his work for the transformational Illuminated London project.
Behind this immense work, in the darkened gallery space, are several smaller works, which continue the theme of changing light, shapes and forms as if out in space. The patterns are not random; Villareal takes his small atomic lights and builds them into mathematical logical and scientific frameworks. What you the viewer have to decide is do they represent the start of creation, or the end? That is for you to decide as you immerse yourself in the changing images.