Emilio Villalba – The Design of an Artist’s Life

Emilio Villalba takes traditional painting techniques and cleverly combines them with a keen understanding of the contemporary art movement.


Living in San Francisco influenced his works. The extreme cost of living in the city forces artists, including himself, to work multiple jobs in order to cover rent and living expenses. Creating work, therefore, is done in the small amounts of time between jobs that the artist has. In this way, time becomes of immense value to him.


Villalba’s newest body of work is Symbols of Death, Signs of Life.

The artist explored a romanticised idea of what it is to be a struggling or starving artist and the perceived lifestyle that accompanies this. The works in this series pay homage to artists from the past as well as reflecting a ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle.


Although Villalba has recently moved away from painting portraits and figures, his new work keeps parts and hints of them throughout. His new series dismantled and scattered parts of these figures that peer out from the canvases.


His most recent work has also become more conceptual, taking three dimensional spaces and presenting them as flattened.

This approach to the space in his work was influenced by the Bauhaus movement as was Villalba’s inclusion of elements of design.
The spaces that Villalba is presenting to us through his painting is predominantly his studio. It is in this space that he spends his time creating and objects from that space are portrayed in his work.


The various objects that appear in the works are offered to the audience as emotional prompts. This allows each person to experience the works in a unique way depending on their own experiences and memories.

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