José Villa


What the Cuban sculptor seeks is the reaction of the spectators’ senses: all his artistic work is based on the mastery of the tools of his trade and he strives to stimulate the public’s feelings and ideas, their bewitchment, by means of a wise and subtle organisation of feelings. Villa thinks in images and through his execution technique. Latin sensoriality as the substance of this exhibition of thirteen spiral sculptures that constitute one of the greatest achievements of Cuban art. Villa’s sculpture is there to be enjoyed; when he builds public fountains, monuments in the pioneers’ park or the cemetery in Havana, columns of flattened cars in Ciudad Juárez or metal wheels with stone steps at the Polytechnic University in Valencia, monuments to José Martí in the Paseo de La Habana in Madrid that make cars crash in El día de la bestia (The Day of the Beast, Álex de la Iglesia, 1995), when he makes thirteen spirals for our enjoyment at the IVAM in Valencia, all these embellish with their formal beauty, with their impressive and mysterious material presence, the city space, the exhibition gallery, the public or private garden, immediately becoming part of them, on the one hand, as objects of interested contemplation, of sensorial pleasure in observing long and yearningly their forms and, on the other hand, as a piece of urban or private furniture, whose objectuality would then be, unlike the trees, on a par with other household objects, hoardings, buildings, home walls or cars travelling along the streets. When Jorge Luis Borges took Verlaine’s statement when arguing about the fact that music and states of happiness “…want to tell us something, or have told us something we should not have missed, or are going to tell us something…”, he could have been referring to José Villa’s metallic spirals, where the smooth or patinated steel surfaces, the constant inward twists or the impression of concentrated twisting of the universe border the passing of the visitors and pursue them, generating an atmosphere that seems to want to announce “the immanence of a revelation”. Miles Davis (1926-1991) said something that our sculptor would be very pleased with:  Real music is silence and all the notes do is surround that silence. Villa’s spirals, sound frozen in metal, matter arranged in straight lines that wind around themselves, destructive steel – of the same family as manual weapons destined to put an end to the life of whomever confronts them – that cleaves space with its compact volumes to break it in a succession of perpetual interiorities, frame the silence of the empty space they surround, but also signal with their presence the power of all the air around them to qualify it as a veritable silence formed in the time of its course, generating a dialectic of material questions and empty replies, of places to be occupied by the spectator in permanent reference to the concentric steels, of forsaken pleas and corporeal responses that prepare the gallery at the IVAM where they are now located – just as, later on, each of them will define the private or public space where it is placed – to confer an appearance – and consequently an essence – reformulated in a spiral, in a square wheel, in more or less stainless steel.