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Despite our unchallenged domination over the whole of the animal kingdom we must face the facts: mankind’s most secret and shameful dream is that of becoming the equal of all creatures, which through the ages we have done our best to take advantage of. Since the dawn of humanity, as evidenced on the walls of caves decorated with paintings of aurochs and antelopes, our fascination with the power and supernatural abilities of animals has never wavered.
At this time when advances in science and technology give mankind the powers of a Mister Hyde, admiration for unadulterated forces of nature has become so strong that we are doubtlessly witnessing the dawning of a new and exciting era, in which fauna, flora and other elements in nature are undoubtedly vanquishing technological progress, unless this progress serves only to reveal their unlimited and disquieting potential, as evidenced by the latest research in biomimicry, the imitation of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.
In 1738 in the Italian city of Messina, dogs howled only a few minutes before an earthquake struck which destroyed the city and killed more than 50,000 people. It was also only a few minutes before a 1920 earthquake in Lansberg in Germany that bees abandoned their hives and took refuge in the relatively calm air. On the other hand storks flew in wide circles before an earthquake which destroyed 20,000 houses in Greece in 1953, warning the population a half hour before the disaster struck. There were only 27 deaths.
In the 1960s a man was sitting in a café playing cards somewhere in the United States. But his dog bothered him continuously with his restlessness, his barking and brusque, random movements about the room. When he couldn’t take it any longer the man left the café with his dog. No sooner had he crossed the threshold the ceiling caved in, burying everyone inside.
As concerns animals’ extra-sensory powers they can sense, like warning signs of unusual events, changes in humidity, changes in magnetic fields, ultrasound and infra sounds. In the purely physical domain they are capable of extraordinary performances. Emperor penguins can go without eating for months on end in extreme weather conditions, hyenas can crush elephants’ bones with their jaws capable of exerting a pressure of three tons per centimeter, tigers can swim 30 kilometers offshore, they can easily jump ten meters high, or throw a baby giraffe weighing 150 kilos six meters up in the air, and it is not uncommon to see cheetahs reach 115 kph while running.
Patrick Villas is an internationally famous painter and sculptor, fascinated by wild animals. While elephants and ostriches have been part of his menagerie, it’s around the wild cat family that he created his remarkable body of work. Represented in Paris by the discerning and enthusiastic Bayart Gallery, the Belgian artist lives and works in the Vosges Mountains, was quite successful organizing art events in his country and has enjoyed considerable commercial success with his paintings. But for the moment, in the inspiring calm of his large studio he works on his sculptures, like an echo of lions’ growling and roaring. And what sculpture! The whole explosive power or on the other hand, reserve and discretion of panthers, leopards, jaguars and cheetahs color his patinated bronze sculptures, whose form rises from the modeling wax, clay, and more recently, papier-mâché.
He who could be described as pantheist researcher and who knows well how to channel the pure energy of wild beasts was for a few years a special guest at the Antwerp zoo. He has watched his favorite subjects so much that he hardly needs to head off to Tanzania or Kenya to capture the beauty of a cheetah in full gallop. He knows their anatomy so well that that he mentally grasp the slightest muscular twinge of these impressive predators.
Like these wild and natural beasts whose power rises from their loins like a vibrating wave, Patrick Villas also sculpts the human body, a body as powerful as it is vulnerable, linked to original forces. It’s clear evidence that mankind’s future is among animals.
Patrick Villas is represented by the Galerie Bayart: 17 rue des Beaux Arts, 75006 Paris; 03 44 20 44 25