“Caribbean Trilogy/Trilogia del Caribe”, Rafael Villamil exhibition at the Taller Boricua

Image courtesy Taller Boricua

Taller Boricua is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in conjunction with its “Inaugural Fall 2023 Exhibition Season,” with the exclusive NYC exhibit of architect and visual artist Rafael (Chafo) Villamil’s “Caribbean Trilogy/Trilogia del Caribe”.It will be on view at the Taller Boricua Galleries through January 20, 2024.

Villamil has been selective in the venues where he chooses to exhibit and share his diverse artistic expression on canvas and works on paper. Curators Nitza Tufino and Andres Villamil have lovingly selected paintings from his previous and well-received exhibit in Puerto Rico at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC), “The Last Twenty-Five Years of the Paintings of Rafael Villamil” in 2006. Taller Boricua is paying homage to this seasoned Maestro whose work explodes with an emotional tribute to the colors of the Caribbean and its people, particularly his native Puerto Rico.

El Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte (Universidad de Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras). In 1961.

Image courtesy Taller Boricua

The exhibition of 1961, “Dos Pintores” featuring Villamil and Rafael Ferrer at El Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte (Universidad de Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras), turned out to be the most disquieting exhibition of the 1960s in Puerto Rico. There were protests before the museum, and the event moved from the art pages to the headlines of the day’s newspapers.

Image courtesy Taller Boricua

This exhibition was seminal in more ways than one, using a simple title to make spectators pause and think about the forms used in the exhibition since the show included painting, “picto-sculpture,” and sculpture. Besides the paintings and sculptures placed on or between greased wood frames in a labyrinth designed by Villamil, the viewer was forced to address questions such as what is and is not a painting, what is art at all at this point, and what kind of society produced this art. Did not arranging these works in this aggressive and greasy environment presage the installations to come on the scene in the mid-1960s? Villlamil’s work had the air of a surrealist nightmare, with a gestural composition akin to the most corrosive expressionism. As a crowning touch, aside from these two razor-edged tendencies, the use of industrial materials dealt a final blow to the generally accepted notion of what was permissible as art in Puerto Rico in those early years.

Rafael (Chafo) Villamil: Caribbean Trilogy/Trilogia del Caribe will be on view at Taller Boricua Galleries, Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center, 180 Lexington Avenue at 106th Street, NYC. An Artist Talk will take place on September 16 from 2:00 to 4:00pm.