Levenstein is known to the public for his soft-focus paintings of still lifes and church interiors based on photographs he took in Italy in the early 2000s.
One of a number of artists who studied at the Yale School of Art (including John Currin, Lisa Yuskavage and Richard Phillips), from an early age Levenstein cultivated a deep interest and understanding of painting. He combines exceptional technical skills with a profound research in the traditional oil painting techniques, which brought him to employ underpainting (the building up of colour on an initial layer of paint applied to a ground, which serves as a base for subsequent layers and helps to define the chromatic values of the finished work). Levenstein uses also copper as the support of some of his paintings. Appreciated by old masters since the beginning of 16th century for its physical and aesthetic qualities, copper allows the artist to further explore vivid effects of light and shadow.
Levenstein’s paintings are not obviously gestural but have an elusive touch; they are built slowly, layer by layer. Their surface is often soft, polished, and illuminated, yet they conveys an underlying emotional intensity. For his subjects, the artist draws upon a ‘personal archive’ of domestic objects, constantly re-arranged and combined to produce new relationships and dynamics within a restricted range of subject matter.
Twilight — a symbol of melancholia and solitude — and the lightly-tinted shadows it casts, also play a prominent role in Levenstein’s works.
On view in this exhibition will be portraits, landscapes and still lifes painted in and around the artist’s studio on the northern shores of Long Island, N.Y. between 2016 and 2017.
Matvey Levenstein (Moscow, 1960), lives and works in New York City. Grown up under the Brezhnev Regime, Levenstein left the USSR in 1980, and lived in Vienna and Rome before going to Chicago. He holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received his MFA degree from Yale University. Levenstein has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally in several institutions, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art, the Drawing Center and White Columns, New York. He has received numerous grants including the Rome Prize (2003), the Penny McCall Foundation Award (2002) and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Grant (1998-99). Galleria Lorcan O’Neill organized the artist’s first solo show in Italy in 2007.