GARDENING

talia levitt

mixed media
20 x 26 in.

artist website


artist statement

My studio, a jungle of still life, is lined with succulents, and drips with ivy and geranium.  I create mobiles and stages with my plants, while introducing string, mirror, paper and various other objects, to paint from. I chose items based on their beauty, nostalgic sentiment, and mythologies as well as the visual opportunities they provide in terms of their patterns and positive and negative shapes.   

Silhouetted abstraction provide the paintings with recognizable structures, while allowing for much freedom to push and pull spacial dimension in the negative shapes they provide. 

I often work on paper with the intention of expanding the image by glueing it to the surface of a much larger canvas. Once a still life is captured and adhered, I build upon the reality of the image, and alter the space using a range of materials and processes to create cohesion. Although most of my work is drawn in and of, interior spaces, they often result in shrine-like landscapes due to the transformative liberties I utilize when elaborating on the preliminarily described image. 

Although the interactions of, and experimentation with, color, composition and texture have continuously changed in my work over the past several years, my intention has remained constant- to combine abstraction and recognizability in the creation of seductively enterable pictorial planes that do not exist in reality. Each space captures a mood, and myth in itself. While some of the paintings are playful and ornamental, others are spiritual and introspective or agitated. 

This past summer I was awarded a painting residency in the desert of Oracle, Arizona. The mystical and seemingly uninhabitable vast landscape provided imagery that seeps it's way into my work both consciously and subconsciously, as do feelings of power, danger, and hopelessness that I attribute to the dry landscape. In contrast to the pallet of Arizona,  the green upon my return to Rhode Island looked and felt enhanced- significantly more lush. This reminds me the importance of painting objects and spaces more than once, as daily experience can change the painting of an item viscerally and dramatically. Thus, the same motifs and objects are employed throughout several different pieces, but I intend them to read, and feel differently in each painting. Their roles in the stories change, based on juxtapositions and other formalistic elements. 

The tactility of the work is of vital importance. My hand is ever-present, through heavy overlapping of materials and fluidity of line. My touch shows evidence of the compulsivity of my practice- both painting and collecting. I am interested in employing labor-intensive means of colliding and layering images in an effort to concentrate on the process of creation itself. My hope is that these methods result in a sincere, sensual and visually rich environment. Most of the work, is significantly larger than I am, which intensifies the painting's encompassing qualities. 

I draw on the legacies of modernist painters, such as Braque, who's sculptural incorporation of foreign papers to the canvas has effected my approach to surface and material transitions.  But rather than re-contextualize and embed written media into my work, I am interested in reinventing or transforming the expectation and contexts of physical materials (ie. nail polish, glitter…) and imagery of common objects. Two artists that I feel effectively accomplish similar goals are John McCalister and Paul Wackers whose collaging of imagery and deliberacy of and sensitivity to material are an inspiration to me.