San Francisco-based painter Emilio Villalba creates abstract portraits inspired by the precision of master works from the past. His paintings are set against white backgrounds that partially cover or obscure large clusters of diverse, hyperrealistic eyes, which are each painted from photographs of posed family members or friends. Villalba feels more comfortable capturing the feelings in familiar subjects’ faces rather than strangers, an element which he presents in his emotive work.
“Subtle shifts, repetition, (re)placement, or absence of facial features are attempts to create a feeling of dissonance and pressure in the viewer,” explains Villalba in an artist statement. “I want someone to be drawn in by the uncanny nature of a piece and still feel safe to explore the feelings and reactions the pressure gives rise to.”