Haynes Galleries presents
Jesús Emmanuel Villarreal: Mirrors
August 3 to August 28. Reception: August 3, 6 to 8 p.m.

THOMASTON, Maine — Haynes Galleries is pleased to present “Mirrors,” the first solo show by Jesús Emmanuel Villarreal, a rising star of American Realism. The exhibit will focus on Villarreal’s figurative work, including his self-portrait “Mirror,” which was selected from a field of 1,400 submissions to receive the 2011 William F. Draper Grand Prize in the American Portrait Society’s International Portrait Competition. The show will run from Aug. 3 to Aug. 28 at 91 Main St., Thomaston. An opening reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 3; the event is free and open to the public.

Villarreal’s technique — in his portraits, a deeply nuanced chiaroscuro; in his still lifes, a lumninosity that makes them glow from within — is reminiscent of the Dutch Masters, yet at the same time, his work feels completely fresh. Part of the reason lies in his approach.

“I try my best to paint with honesty,” Villarreal says. “I want people to look beyond Realism to be able to see what I’m painting, to see a little deeper than the superficial aspect. I try to paint the unseen things. The mystery behind things. The unspoken truth.”

Villarreal paints slowly, thoughtfully, taking time to unveil the mystery even in the most commonplace of objects. In his hands, an industrial door outside his studio becomes a thing of beauty; its scratched surface reveals layers of time and character — ”It just moves me,” he says. He applies the same care to his figurative work, as well. One painting, a dark-haired woman lying on the floor, robe open, is a study in light and angle — but also of calm confidence. Another, a portrait of a blonde on a fainting couch, is luminous, haunting and utterly arresting.

Villarreal is a native of Venezuela who became a U.S. citizen in 2006. Villarreal trained at the Florence Academy of Art and the Maryland Institute College of Art. While many of his peers were drawn to abstraction, he didn’t feel that the language of abstraction was suitable for his form of expression. So he sought out people who could teach him how to celebrate his love for the “real world.” As his work has evolved, so has his philosophy.

“Jesús Villarreal has the vocabulary and the skills down,” Haynes says. “The way he develops his ideas and the execution of those ideas is spectacular. His growth depends on his ability to zero in on what it’s going to take to make his outstanding pieces even better. I’m thrilled to find a gem like this in the early stages of his career, and I know he’s going to be a superstar.”

Haynes is not alone in his opinion. Renowned portraitist Burton Silverman, who served as one of the jurors in the Draper competition, considers Villarreal “a young artist of great promise.”

“This young artist has dramatic painting skills and the self-portrait reveals a good deal of his emotional intensity,” says Silverman. “He is at the outset of his career and his talents have much to explore. The special qualities of light and intense figuration in the self-portrait are part of the emotional convergences in the painting. I would want to see more of his figures and the development he might have as his work progresses and expands.”

This is an exciting point in Villarreal’s journey, a journey that continues to lead him toward the truth — in art and in life. This exhibit is a chance to view works in progress by young star whose career is also work in progress.