Five and Under

Andrew Leventis, Traveler Series 1, Oil on Linen, 11 x 26″, 2018

I’m going to have three paintings included in the Five and Under exhibition this month at Arcadia Contemporary in SoHo. This will be the first time I’ve exhibited work in Manhattan since almost a decade ago when I had a solo show at Viridian. Fifty artists will be participating. My three will be small oils from the salt water taffy series.  May Moonlight has been exhibited at Manifest, and Carnival won first place at the 21st Annual Central Adirondack Art Show last year. I’m honored to be included in anything Steven Diamant puts together at Arcadia, having admired and written about the work he exhibits over the past decade. He moved the gallery from downtown Manhattan to Los Angeles and then back again following the economics of NYC real estate as it shifted favorably during the pandemic. He’s an endangered species, an old school gallerist who represents artists for many years as long as he can find a reasonable market for their work, cultivating and promoting the talent of the people he picks. In person, he’s an acerbic observer of the current art scene, a refreshing intelligence, a good soul.

The painting above, by Andrew Leventis, shown at Arcadia’s landing page for the Five and Under show, struck me as a perfectly realized photo-realistic work–immediately recognizable, I thought, as a painting of a still image from a film. It’s mid-sized, smaller than one might think it would be when discovering it online. I was taken with the painting partly because it represents something I’ve been intending to do myself: using screen grabs or photographs of paused movies (commercial films and my own family videos) as a source for a series of paintings–though not photo-realistic ones. I’m thinking of looser work, closer to the way Porter evoked figures in a room or outside. (I showed an early foray into this possible series in London many years ago.) Seeing this one is humbling. Leventis not only conveys a moment in a larger narrative, the arrival of a traveling woman, not moving in but visiting, it seems, evoking many mysteries of what comes before and after this moment. Yet the work is also a marvelous abstract composition where he has concentrated the rich caramels, reds and greens, the touch of blue, into that one cluster of objects in the upper right quadrant of this wide-format painting. The light that greets your eye from the distant horizon at the far end of the street seems to be the same light reflected off the smooth surface of the luggage, giving the viewer a sense of hope, clear skies, maybe a bright future, or at least the chance for one. Wonderful work. Only one of many paintings available at the show, and it would be a bargain given the price range that defines the show.

Five and Under will run from Aug. 19 through Sept. 6. An opening reception will be Aug. 19, 4-6 p.m. I plan to be there.

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