Anibal Villacis is a master painter from Ecuador who used raw earthen materials such as clay and natural pigments to paint on walls and doors throughout his city when he could not afford expensive artist materials. As a teenager, Villacis taught himself drawing and composition by studying and recreating the illustrated ad posters for bullfights in Quito. In 1952, Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra, former President of Ecuador, discovered Villacis and offered him a scholarship to study in Paris.
After living in Paris for almost a year, Villacis never grew accustomed to the language, so he wrote to the Ecuadorian Minister of Education requesting to transfer his studies to Madrid. Villacis felt more comfortable in Spain and lived there for six years. While living in Madrid, Villacis was introduced to the Informalismo or Informalist Movement, specifically, Antoni Tapies, Antonio Saura, and Modest Cuixart, who quickly began to influence his work. Villacis was a co-founder of VAN (Vanguardia Artistica Nacional), the Informalist artist group that embraced Informalism while searching for new modern aesthetics inspired by Pre-Columbian art (also referred to as Ancestralism or The Ancestralists). Other members of VAN included, Enrique Tabara, Estuardo Maldonado, Luis Molinari, Hugo Cifuentes and Gilberto Almeida.
Villacis is mostly well known for his series called, Filigranas (Filigree), which he started in the early sixties. The Filigranas series were typically mixed media on masonite, wood or canvas with the addition of any combination of the following applied: marble dust, sand, metal, plaster, paint, gold and/or silver leaf or powder to create new modern aesthetics influenced by his Pre-Columbian ancestors. In Villacis' works made of wood he will laboriously carve into the wood to define Pre-Columbian inspired shapes and abstract symbols. Villacis will often layer many different colors of paint and then scrape some away to reveal the different colors of the layers below, giving the impression of an ancient sacred relic that has aged with time. The addition of silver and gold in Villacis' work is reminiscent of the art of the Baroque period, where the addition of these metals was often used to create a divine experience.
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