From Winter Park, FL, photographer Chris Villarroel challenges himself and his subjects in every image. Villarroel pairs each of them with a prop they must become one with to be photographed. The essential extras range from the smallest of googly eyes to heavy wooden ladders. Whatever the case may be, Villarroel and his models prove to be proficient in the art of prop visuals.
While Villarroel garnishes his subject with every day items, he does it in such a way that challenges the viewer as well. You must view his images with a certain degree of comfortability with the peculiar. For example, we all know where eyes go on your face but Villarroel prefers them to be all over. And we all know ladders stand upright as we climb them but why not lay them down and lay on them? Pushing boundaries in photography and modeling with fundamental items redefines the art. Villarroel has created art that we can simply look at and appreciate and art that we can remember and reconsider.
Another consideration with Villarroel’s work is how all of the tones match the nature of the props used. He mostly works with rope, tulle, and cellophane. Each of these are elemental in their own way. Villarroel distinguishes between using the resonance of the image. Rope, ribbon, and sheets are captured on neutral pastel backgrounds with earthy tones while tulle, cellophane, and florals use more soft colors. Villarroel also uses solid props and utilizes them to amplify or distort. A geometrical glass sphere reflects over a dozen eyeballs in one image while two pointy cones replace two hands in another.
Most noteworthy is Villarroel’s humility through his work. He recognizes the special effort his models put in to achieve what he seeks to capture. He also encourages his viewers to “stay weird” and “just let go”. Villarroel definitely makes that easy to do with what he expresses through his photography.
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