Studio visit: Ryan Villamael

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“Locus Amoenus” finds Ryan Villamael’s cut-outs in the form of overgrown flora occupying the glass greenhouse at the Singapore Art Museum, one of the first visible works upon entering the building’s colonial-era facade. Photo by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — A day before artist Ryan Villamael flew out to install his work for the Singapore Biennale, his studio apartment in Quezon City seemed to be in the eye of the storm. “Locus Amoenus” (meaning “pleasant place” in Latin) was in parts around the room: hanging from the ceiling, leaves scattered on his table and in cut-out sheets neatly stacked inside thick wrappers ready to be shipped out the next day. The only marks of the whirlwind of work done here were the stray cut-outs here and there, papers written with notes and reminders above his desk, and an image of foliage taped on a wall.

Villamael had been working on the concept of “Locus Amoenus” earlier this year while spending time on international residency grants in France, London, and Australia, as part of his Ateneo Art Award win in 2015. Commissioned specifically for the Singapore Biennale 2016: An Atlas of Mirrors, “Locus Amoenus” is a natural progression of his work, coming from his award-winning exhibit, “Isles,” which featured cartographic paper-cut sculptures housed in bell jars, to “Behold a City,” a rendering of Manila in photographic-cut outs blown up into a life-sized imaginarium. Now, “Locus Amoenus” finds Villamael’s cut-outs in the form of overgrown flora occupying the glass greenhouse at the Singapore Art Museum, one of the first visible works upon entering the building’s colonial-era facade, situating the piece within a historical context that thrives in his body of work.

Video by JL JAVIER

The Singapore Biennale runs from October 27, 2016 to February 26, 2017 at the Singapore Art Museum.