Leo Villareal

American artist Leo Villareal (born 1967) is the most prominent light sculptor among a younger generation of light artists. In 1997, having abandoned his work with interactive television, Villareal began to pursue a more systems-based approach, devising complex light sculptures in which he combined strobe lights, neon, and most recently, LED bulbs activated by the artist’s own extraordinary custom-made software. The effect of these bulbs, and the software that steers their flickering patterns, is cumulative and magical: thousands of tiny white LEDs may resemble a starry night as seen in a planetarium (Villareal installed this work in the windows of the Peter Jay Sharp Building at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), while tubes of colored LEDs masked by a diffuser give a softer effect that resembles something like a Monet painting of water lilies set in motion. This volume accompanies the first museum survey of Villareal’s hypnotic and exhilarating light sculptures at the San Jose Museum of Art.