Laura Storfner writes about Aubrey Levinthal’s first solo show at the gallery.
Hardly any other artist has captured the early days of the pandemic as aptly as the American artist Aubrey Levinthal, whose paintings can currently be seen at the Haverkampf Leistenschneider Gallery. Philipp Haverkampf and Carolin Leistenschneider, who run the gallery together, are dedicating their first solo exhibition in Europe to Levinthal. Her new works impressively capture the unique sense of time that has entered our lives thanks to lockdowns and home offices, because there wasn’t much to see and do given contact restrictions, many people focused on time itself – and noticed that while individual days dragged on sluggishly and uneventfully, entire months felt like they flew by. Levinthal’s scenes follow her alter ego, a young woman with dark hair, as she navigates these new time zones. She lets us into not only her home, but her inner life. We watch the character ponder and wait: wait for something to finally happen.

We watch her between shelves in the supermarket, at a picnic with a friend, alone on a park bench. The character never seems impatient: surrounded by an unseen diving bell, she drifts sleepily through the days. She participates in everyday life, yet is never fully present. At the same time, Levinthal directs her gaze to discover what exists within the limited radius between the studio and the supermarket: her own reflection in the shop window of a closed boutique, the snow-covered roofs of the neighborhood and an open laptop on the kitchen table. Not only do her figures seem removed from the present, but the still lifes, familiar as they may be, are full of melancholy. Her interiors and window paintings recall the late Alice Neel, who was able to convey her own loneliness in the simple view of a shadowed house front. Levinthal’s murky, washed-out colors, painted on wood, reinforce this feeling: they overlap like endless hours that we can hardly remember later. As a result, Levinthal also paints a portrait of the tired society that has been dragging itself from workday to workday, and not just since corona. In a way, her paintings can be read as a wake-up call,for in every standstill lies the chance for a new beginning.

Text: Laura Storfner / Credit: Haverkampf Leistenschneider, Berlin; Aubrey Levinthal / Photos: Jens Ziehe

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