Standing beneath Ryan Villamael’s intricately-cut latticework Locus Amoenus can be likened to being in a greenhouse with tall glass windows and delicately crafted foliage creeping across the ceiling. A closer look at the handcrafted leaves will reveal that the installation is composed of replicas of Philippine geographical maps.
Multiple realities are layered as replicas of 16th century Philippine maps are placed back-to-back against replicas of contemporary maps, outlining the country’s history under colonial rule. An inquiry into the notion of territorial demarcation, the maps are fashioned into foliage and fronds to create an Eden—a locus amoenus, Latin for “pleasant place” – as they take the form of Monstera deliciosa, an invasive tropical plant known to thrive in conquering any space inhabited.
The first iteration of Locus Amoenus was exhibited in 2016 for the Singapore Biennale. It has since then become a site-specific installation with different iterations, the most recent of which being at Chiang Mai, Thailand for the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum exhibition Diaspora: Exit, Exile, Exodus of Southeast Asia.
Locus Amoenus , Villamael’s return show, is installed at the staircase of the Ateneo Art Gallery. The installation will be on view until February 2019.
Villamael (b. 1987, Laguna) is known for his deliberate handiwork crafting intricate latticework constructions, with paper as his primary canvas. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of the Philippines – Diliman and exhibited in various museums and galleries locally and abroad. His artistic practice is primarily rooted in craft and its conceptual significance in the process of creating contemporary art.
Villamael was among the winners of the 2015 Ateneo Art Awards and received residency grants from Ateneo Art Gallery’s partner institutions – the Visual Arts Center, La Trobe University in Australia and the Creative Campus, Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom.
He has participated in exhibitions such as the Singapore Biennale 2016: An Atlas of Mirrors, Art Basel in Hong Kong (2015-2017), Art Stage Jakarta (2016), and Secret Archipelago at Palais de Tokyo, France. He is set to participate in the Biwako Biennale to be held at Omihachiman City, Japan in October 2018.