Room information sheet

The exhibition Vilallonga, l’ull interior [Vilallonga, the Inner Eye], seeks to revive and render homage to the career of Jesús de Vilallonga (1927–2018). Born into a family of landholders from La Selva (Girona), he would become one of the most unique representatives of Catalan art of the second half of the 20th century.

A taste for the arts was common in his family environment, where the presence of painters and poets was frequent. Although he began his studies in Architecture at Barcelona, after a few years he left university to dedicate himself entirely to painting.

Vilallonga was trained in the studio of the painter Ramon Rogent (1920–1958), and it was there where he met Joan Ponç (1927–1984), an artist and founding member of the avantgarde art group Dau al Set; he also trained at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts. He continued his studies in France, at the École des beaux-arts de Paris, and in Rome, where he learnt the egg tempera painting technique. In 1954 he left for Québec on a contract with the Dominion Gallery of Montreal, and ended up living there for some thirty years.

It is for this reason that Vilallonga created most of his work in Canada, the country where he would also receive his most relevant commissions, such as the mural entitled Imaginary Portrait of 24 Universal Geniuses of Today (1981). His most important public work, the mural is in the collection of Montreal's Concordia University and is on display in the auditorium of the Visual Arts Complex. The film beig shown in the exhibition, produced by Robert Desrosiers, shows the restoration process of the work.

Despite residing abroad, Vilallonga never lost sight of his roots and returned periodically to his beloved Cadaqués, where he would reunite with friends, the Mediterranean ambience serving to enrich his inspiration. He would finally be recognized at home in 2015, when the municipality where he was born, Santa Coloma de Farners (Girona), paid homage to him with an important anthological exhibition at the Museu Casa de la Paraula. This show followed on a previous anthology held in 2000 at Thousand Oaks, California.

The Fundació Vila Casas now hosts his latest retrospective in the Espais Volart, Vilallonga, l’ull interior. The exhibit includes many of the artist’s works, featuring painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking, while representing all of the stages, thematic concerns and influences of his career.

As recalled by his daughter and exhibition curator Marta Vilallonga, he was a meticulous and constant person, with his art fluctuating between various styles, including abstraction, surrealism, symbolism and expressionism, amongst others. While he dominated various techniques, the curator has highlighted those she considers to be most essential: egg tempera painting, fresco painting, silkscreen printing, ceramics, acrylic painting and sculpture, many of which can be fully appreciated in this exhibition.

In the words of the art historian and critic Daniel Giralt-Miracle, “Vilallonga was never an easy painter to catalogue. He worked with his ‘inner eye’, which Freud described as the deepest and most intelligent, allowing him to construct an unarguably personal world.” In this he agrees with Luis de Moura, a professor at the Université de Montréal and an expert in Vilallonga’s work. As de Moura concludes: “In summary, Vilallonga is one of those who, during the final half of the 20th century, made a deliberate choice for figuration and continued to grow in the liberating power of the imagination.”