View This: A Show of Paintings That Consider Office Life

The Puerto Rican artist explores corporate environments and hidden identities in his latest exhibition.

Article by Jameson Montgomery

Jean-Pierre Villafañe’s “Clocking-In” (2024).Jean-Pierre Villafañe’s “Clocking-In” (2024). Photograph courtesy of the artist and Charles Moffett. Photo: Andy Romer

Growing up in Puerto Rico, the artist Jean-Pierre Villafañe fell in love with painting while working on a series of community murals in San Juan’s Río Pedras district. The project also sparked his interest in architecture and the way decoration can impact public spaces and how people use them. In 2019, he left his job as an architectural designer to pursue painting full-time. This week he’ll open “Playtime,” an exhibition of new work at the Charles Moffett gallery in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood. Villafañe is about halfway through a yearlong studio residency at 4 World Trade Center, next to New York’s financial district. His new work explores the spare, repetitive environments of corporations and the way people tend to obscure their private identities in office settings. A suite of oil paintings on linen show an exaggeratedly curvaceous cast of characters whose rotund musculature recalls the early 20th-century figures of the French artist Fernand Léger, but with highly contoured makeup. In Villafañe’s “Overtime” (all works cited, 2024), three such faces peek out over a maze of cubicles to watch a couple locked in an embrace, one exposing a breast and a fishnet-stockinged leg. “Pitch” depicts a group of executives seated at a boardroom table gazing at a contorted figure. Villafañe’s favourite of the new paintings, “Clocking-In,” portrays a corridor where workers emerge from various doorways in unison, identically dressed in white shirts, neckties and trousers — save for one brave deviant in a cocktail dress. “Playtime” is on view at Charles Moffett, New York, from June 21 through Aug. 2,