HANFORD — When driving through town or down Highway 99, many people just see fields and trees and nothing more. Local artist Saul Villegas sees something else entirely.
“I see a vibrant puzzle,” Villegas said. “Something with many pieces that I like to move around and play with. I love taking what seems to be completely ordinary and making it surreal.”
This is the general concept of Villegas’s latest art exhibit, “Moderno: Landscapes,” which is being featured by the Fresno Arts Council at Fresno City Hall this month. Villegas creates abstract paintings of various landscapes from across the Valley from photographs he has taken.
“Each piece began as a photograph,” he said. “Using computer graphics, each photograph is enlarged to the size of the final painting, and then digitally enhanced, the hues and contrasts exaggerated over many layers. While some of these enhancements may seem to result in ‘unnatural’ coloring, that is indeed the object of the work: to take the viewer into an enhanced or unnatural landscape.”
After the photo has finished being enhanced to his liking, he then recreates it by painting it.
Villegas, 28, is originally from Avenal and has been studying and creating art since he was in middle school. After attending a program for gifted art students when he was 15 and participating in the Kings Art Center’s Young Masters competition, he worked for and learned from Robert Braun, another local artist and frame and the former owner of Artisans in Hanford.
Soon after studying at the Art Institute of California in Hollywood, Villegas returned to the Hanford area and has been hard at work promoting the arts in the Central Valley. He joined the Kings County Art League and served as its vice president in 2010. He is now attending and taking more art classes at the College of the Sequoias campus in Hanford.
“Art is my passion and my life,” he said. “I have learned so much from so many mentors over the years. I am truly grateful to all of them. I am constantly learning and fine-tuning my craft. Some of these new pieces incorporate things I just recently learned at COS Hanford.”
The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or through email at bsantiago@HanfordSentinel.com.
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