Hometown: Guiguinto, Bulacan
Lives and Works: Quezon City
Pancho Villanueva grew up in the countryside, in a town grown out of vast open rice fields which were limitless playgrounds to him during summer. He was raised by progressive parents who worked hard to get him to a good college. On his part, he made good to maintain high marks in high school and eventually passed the entrance exam in the University of the Philippines. Being always confident in his drawing skills since he was 10 yrs old, he thought of enrolling in Fine Arts but was later convinced to take up architecture instead.
During his college years, he was always moving from one apartment to another. The university being in a city not so far from his hometown, he got to visit his family often. During this time he saw how his neighborhood turn from a quiet locale to a busy suburbia. This would mark the beginnings of his sense of both home and placelessness – a notion very much still imbedded and woven to his life and art today.
After college, he worked in a design firm in the middle of a bustling city. He was architect and project manager in charge of offices, call centers, and other corporate interiors. Although enjoying his work, he found himself redrawn to the visual arts after joining a few sketching sessions in a nearby gallery. In 2004, he decided to resign his job and focus on his art practice full-time.
His early works were drawn from abstract expressionism, unplanned paintings which would later appear like aerial views of his old neighborhood as melded with his city life. His succeeding works were re-exploration of his draftsmanship – obsessive drawing and markings combined with splashes and random swipes of paint and mixed media. He produced a series he entitled The Violence of Mouths and had his first solo show in 2010. Since then – although he has continued to make abstracts, detailed drawings in ballpoint pen, acrylic and mixed media works – Villanueva has diverted his focus on three-dimensional work. His practice now draws inspiration from found objects, wood constructions, and other discarded materials. Assemblages and curiosity cabinets where he puts together found images and objects, and which play on the dynamics between the organic and the inorganic—like bones and medicine vials, minerals and antique furniture scraps, preserved flora and small metal scraps. These assemblage and 3D works reflect his concern for the environment, his relationship to place and space, and his exploration of the human condition. He is currently in the MFA program of the UP College of Fine Arts focusing on three-dimensional and spatial art.
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