Pepe Villegas, a native son of Puerto Rico, began a love affair with the arts that would take him from the halls of universities, to the cover of magazines, and to the walls of some of the most prestigious art galleries and museums. http://vimeo.com/95763991http:/5763991
What began as a love of drawing, sketching and mapping floor plans and buildings from a very early age, would soon lead Villegas to study Architecture & Urban Planning at University of Puerto Rico. In his first semester he won first place in a national poster competition for The President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped. His design became the official image of the agency’s calendar and was reproduced nationally.
In 1985, he attended a summer program at the Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza, Italy, where he experienced up close the work of Andrea Palladio and the renaissance period, particularly the spatial grandiosity of the Colosseum interior. This experience planted the first seeds which would inspire Villegas’ drive to embark on his artistic journey.
In 1987, Villegas transferred to the prestigious Pratt Institute School of Architecture in New York where he finished his architectural degree. After graduation he worked for the late landscape architect Bruce Kelly, and for I.M Pei (Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners) in the early 1990’s.
His experiences at these levels would soon bring Villegas to the realization that he had little interest in the corporate aspects of architecture as a business, and he relocated to Miami to work at a smaller firm in Coconut Grove at the beginning of the South Beach cultural & social revival.
He found a thriving and vibrant community, becoming friends with the late artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and fashion designer Thierry Mugler. This environment motivated a shift in direction of creativity and self-expression. A chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity landed Villegas on Bruce Weber’s Vogue Magazine’s 100-year anniversary editorial, a life-changing event that positioned him among the most reputable agencies in the modeling world. This opportunity of traveling and exposure brought forth Villegas’ innate fascination with the human spirit and his passionate artistic voice.
Hispanicize 2014 – Pepe VillegasA self-taught artist, Pepe Villegas’ creative journey has always embodied a search, a sublime process of unveiling beauty in the unconventional. In 1993 he relocated the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan where he shared a studio and launched his career as an artist. He became part of an alternative creative community vibrating outside the gallery and museum system, in the fashion and music subcultures, and the subways and the streets of New York. His multimedia work has resulted in collaborations, exhibitions, and happenings around the world. From doing murals for Heineken and Verizon, to designing artwork for the perfumers at Symrise, his work has been featured in venues ranging from the commercial to the avant-garde, and all stops in between.
Pepe Villegas’ work has been exhibited extensively in prestigious galleries & museums around the world, such as the El Museo de las Americas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, The Parrish Museum in Southampton; the Gagosian Gallery, and the Charles Cowles Gallery, New York, which represented him. Charles Cowles, whose personal collection features some of Villegas’ work, donated more than 100 iconic works to the new Perez Art Museum Miami.
Pepe Villegas’ work has been featured in leading publications such as The New Yorker, Artforum, NY Arts, Time Out New York, Bloomberg.com, Zink Magazine and London’s The Artist Magazine, amongst many others.