Artist Projects

Leo Villareal Launches First NFT Project with Generative Platform Art Blocks

Published Monday, Jan 17, 2022

Leo Villareal is pleased to announce Cosmic Reef, the artist’s first series of NFTs, consisting of 1,024 unique, digital works presented on Art Blocks, the preeminent platform supporting artists making programmable, generative projects. This collaboration marks a natural evolution in Villareal’s practice and includes the first works created by the artist to exist in a born-digital form. Cosmic Reef will launch on January 24, 2022 at 1 PM EST and will be available for purchase on (opens in a new window)

Drawing upon an infinite array of sequences in the natural world, Cosmic Reef reflects on randomness in nature, which is capable of producing beauty and symmetry. As with all Art Blocks projects, Villareal’s interpretation in code will be included in the smart contract through a controlled, randomized lens. The individual works begin with a simple geometry that becomes more complex through composed dynamic layers, each born of a combination of human control and computational chance. Coded using three.js, a JavaScript library for 3D objects, each unique output is the generative result of over 100 parameters. Randomized permutations of attributes create rarity through specific combinations of geometry, color, composition, and light, making each work in the series entirely unique.

Simple forms evolve into complex constellations, emulating the architecture of life. As Villareal explains:

“A particular order can be found in deepest space, in our oceans and forests, and in all living things, including ourselves – a unified code that produces variation. Gravity and cosmic winds shape star-forming nebulas into coral-like forms. Flowers self-organize in a radial symmetry with signals hidden from the human eye. Stars are birthed, explode, collapse, and are reborn. Invertebrates move on the tides of oceans, signaling with ever-changing bioluminescence. Light bends time as events unfold in our own lives.”

Villareal’s practice has always created an interplay between the tangible and the digital through site-specific public art installations and sculptures. Cosmic Reef is the artist’s first born-digital series, encouraged by a new appreciation of code-based work, catalyzed by the popularity of blockchain technology. Blockchain is a natural extension for Villareal, where distribution and patronage is decentralized, allowing for engagement with a new and even wider audience.

Art Blocks founder Erick Calderon expressed his enthusiasm for the project:

“Leo Villareal’s work has been a source of inspiration for me for many years, both in my own creative practice and as the founder of Art Blocks. The platform was originally conceived as a way to enable the public to interact with digital art using blockchain technology, so the significance of working with Leo on the release of his work on Art Blocks is humbling and surreal and I am excited to see this work come to life in this medium!”

The project is supported by Pace Gallery, which represents Leo Villareal.

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  • Artist Projects — Leo Villareal Launches First NFT Project with Art Blocks, Jan 17, 2022