Talia Levitt: Two Truths and a Lie

July 9 - August 8, 2020

HESSE FLATOW is pleased to present TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE, the debut solo exhibition of paintings by Talia Levitt.

 

Levitt's mischievous and maximalist still life paintings reveal the artist's interest in games, mise en abyme, and meta-experiences. Establishing a surprising kind of mimicry in which the surface and material of the paint impersonate objects as much as they depict them, Levitt pours panes of "stained glass" from translucent paint, casts lengths of ultramarine "painter's tape," and lays a thin smooth layer of acrylic matte medium as "tracing paper" - then truly traces on it.

 

These mix-ups of realities and rendered objects ripple throughout each painting, each one layered with image within image. Windows, walls, and frames make frequent, often punny, appearances, not just as representations (or re-representations) of walls but the very architecture of the studio, conflating both studio and cramped personal space. The line between reality and falsehood is blurred or removed in Levitt's work. While this could be used as a sinister strategy, instead Levitt plays the role of good-natured prankster, creating moments of surprise and confusion. Expanding upon the traditional intentions and strategies of trompe l'oeil and still life painting, Levitt enthusiastically embraces the populist nature of the genre, reviled by art critics since the 17th century. Speaking to the labor, time and craft involved in creating convincing fantasies, Levitt's overall approach to the surface is democratic in every way - technically, compositionally and metaphorically. 

 

Though women were largely excluded from painting in the European academies until the 20th century, they nonetheless were permitted to participate in still-life courses due to the genre's anti-intellectual status. This history was a critical entryway for Talia Levitt's development as a painter of studio objects. Appreciating these anonymous predecessors as well as the contemporary artists who reinvented the tradition, Levitt unapologetically allows the feminine and the feminist to come through in her work with both sincerity and muscle.