Art@Site Edoardo Villa Vertical Presence Cape Town

Edoardo Villa


Vertical Presence

Vertical Presence
In the 1980s he repeatedly returned to using pipes in his works, which he had begun in the 1970s, as well as the incorporation of colour into his sculptures. As noted by Von Maltitz and Nel, “Colour, for Villa, has always been an important means of amplifying the mood he intends the work to project – at times brooding, moody and aggressive; at others, light-hearted and joyous.” He also completed a number of small steel works, and a series of sculptures such as ‘Metamorphosis’, in which organic shapes predominate. Since, 1990 he has produced a number of very large metal sculptures, always experimenting and adapting his methods, with an “acute awareness of his environment – natural, social and political – as well as a considered insight into contemporary art-making, tempered by an understanding of the global context” (Von Maltitz and Nel, 2005:118).
Throughout Villa’s career, the universality of humankind, expressing the multifaceted human condition, has been concern (Berman, 1980). According to Berman, Villa’s work transformed the way in which South Africans perceive sculpture: “[It] is in the conceptual substance of his oeuvre that his most significant achievement lies. Edoardo Villa has been uniquely able to translate his South African experience into symbolic visual form (2005:4)”.
Today, Edoardo Villa’s public sculptures mark the metropolitan landscape of Johannesburg – his sculptures are better represented in that city than the work of any other artist. His numerous works have transformed the urban landscape of many South African cities, as Villa has created an “unsurpassed body of work – in number, quality and scale” (Von Maltitz and Nel, 2005). He has established himself as a prominent figure in the South African art scene, as a member of the South African Arts Association and the South African Council of Artists, and through long-standing relationships with prominent universities, such as the University of Pretoria and the University He has represented South Africa at the São Paulo Biennale as well as in the Venice Biennale on five occasions, and has had more than 100 solo and group shows worldwide.
Edoardo Daniele Villa (1915–2011) was a notable South African sculptor of Italian descent who worked primarily in steel, and bronze.
Villa's sculpture developed further during the 1950s, when the use of cut steel and bronze. At this time he also taught at the Polly Art Centre in Johannesburg. The Polly Art Centre was founded as an adult education institution; in 1952 it was converted into an art and exhibition centre. Until its closure in 1960, it was the only place – apart from a few private galleries – where black artists in Johannesburg could pursue their art and show their works.
In 1961, along with Cecil Skotnes, Cecily Sash, Giuseppe Cattaneo and Sydney Kumalo, Villa made up the artist group “Amadlozi” (Zulu for “ancestors”) for the conscious appropriation of African sculptural tradla's work includes larger than life steel installations, such as Reclining Figure in Pieter Roos Park, Johannesburg. This work was intended as a play statue for children, paid for by Anglo American, selected by the Parktown and Westcliffe Heritage Trust and donated to the City of Johannesburg and unveiled by the Deputy Mayor of Johannesburg Councillor C.E. Fabel on 8 September 1984.
Edoardo Villa represented South Africa at the Venice Biennale on five occasions and he has received awards at the São Paulo Biennales of 1957 and 1959. He has exhibited in over a hundred shows in Italy, Europe, England, Israel, South America, Africa and the United States.
In 1994/1995 Villa donated 140 small and 10 large works to the University of Pretoria. On 31 May 1995, to celebrate the artist's 80th birthday, the Edoardo Villa Museum was officially opened at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Villa lived and worked at his home in Johannesburg, He was a friend of the artist and art collector, Vittorino Menegelli, the author Jillian Becker and the architect Monty Sack. Villa died in hospital on 1 May 2011 at age 95.