Los Angeles–based artist William Leavitt presents two groups of pastel drawings in his second one-person exhibition at Metro Picture. The exhibition of fourteen drawings will be at the gallery from April 16 through May 14.
While Leavitt is equally known for his tableaux, text, theatrical presentations and earlier photographic pieces, the pencil and pastel drawings are at the core of his work. They identify the primary themes and essential details of Leavitt's concerns. The meticulously executed drawings serve as studies, story boards and set designs for Leavitt's tableaux and plays and at the same time they stand as thoroughly complete formal and conceptual statements. The great attention to detail, such as wood grains, plants, decorative elements, arrangement and placement result in almost anthropological purpose.
The two series of drawings at Metro Pictures are vignettes of either visual puns as in the smaller drawings, or selected aspects of interior modern decor and exterior architectural details. Of the five small drawings, "Doo-Wah Forest" depicts a bed of elliptical shapes that are the visual equivalent of forest sounds; "Neo-Classic Hut" is an igloo–shaped dwelling made of acanthus leaves; and "Modern House" simply presents a plain turquoise wall in perspective with a rock and a desert plant in front of it and a distant landscape behind it. Many of the drawings are particular details of actual locations that were observed and remembered. The drawings recall those details and other elements that are impressions of surroundings, as in "Stupa" which portrays an actual Buddhist monument. "Shades of Blue" is particularly representative of Leavitt's attention to detail of image, shape, surface material and stylized setting. This drawing, inspired by a new Beverly Hills courthouse, shows three blue flags standing before a pale pink marble wall, a black ceiling with large inset circular lights and two potted palms. The crisp presentation and observations of Leavitt's drawings, whether they are contemporary or refer to futuristic or historical conventions, suggest both an admiration and critique of the self-conscious aesthetic decisions that comprise our environment. The drawings become a kind of comedy of manners.
William Leavitt lives in Los Angeles where his work has recently been seen at Larry Gagosian Gallery and Richard Kuhlenschmidt Gallery. His theatrical productions, such as "Rain or Shine" and "The Silk" were produced in Los Angeles theaters. Leavitt's work has been exhibited in one-person shows at Art and Project in Amsterdam, Kabinett Fur Art Aktuelle in Bremerhaven, and Francoise Lambert Gallery in Milan. Tableaux have been installed at Wave Hill in New York, Metro Pictures, Artists Space, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
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