Tom Leaver

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© Courtesy of the artist & McKenzie Fine Art
Tom Leaver

55 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
September 10th, 2010 - October 9th, 2010
Opening: September 10th, 2010 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

east village/lower east side
Wed-Sat 11-6;Sun 12-6


McKenzie Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by California-

based artist Tom Leaver, opening on Friday, September 10th with a reception for the artist from 6 to 8 p.m., and running through Saturday, October 9th, 2010.  This will be the artist's fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.

Tom Leaver has been creating nearly abstract landscapes for years, as a means of exploring the process of painting.  His range of vistas includes luminous, sylvan settings and brooding, minimal horizons.  The images do not correspond to actual locations.  Instead, Leaver works directly from his imagination in an immediate and intuitive manner, applying paint with gloved hands in favor of brushes.  Each painting is built up in layers over time, with fortuitous drips and runs incorporated, and areas partially dissolved with turpentine.  In the end, the composition emerges from the interaction of the multiple layers.

Leaver’s current body of work continues to reflect his interest in process and in “…the idea of a tacit image …why a blotch or drip which doesn’t look like a place can feel like one.” The ambiguous marks in these paintings coalesce into verdant, overgrown structures steeped in a vaporous, pale-green atmosphere.  Brown, yellow, violet, and white highlights sparkle throughout the lush, hazy scenery.  Perhaps they are blooms, or drifting particles aglow in the mysterious light, or even will-o’-the-wisps.  The scenes elicit shifting memories of long-faded summer afternoons waning into evening, of quiet clearings deep in the woods, or the intimate details of a garden.  Upon closer inspection the effect soon varies, and the images begin to dissolve once more into abstractions of dabbed and scumbled paint, only to converge again in the form of fleeting recollections.

Leaver’s specific influences for this show include Martin Johnson Heade’s 1871 painting Cattleya Orchid with Hummingbirds, fireflies in the humid South, and the work of Takagi Masakatsu, a Japanese electronic musician.  However, his narrative inspirations as well as the viewers’ specific associations are less important to him than the manipulations he uses to create the work.  In addition to his mark-making system, scale is of particular concern in this show.  Along with larger paintings on both canvas and panel, over thirty 6 x 4 inch works on paper will be included—a new size and substrate for the artist.  They are not sketches for larger paintings, but complete works that Leaver equates with snapshots, and allow the viewer a different approach to the images and actual presence of his painting technique.  For Leaver, art is inseparable from the state of mind achieved during its creation, and from the immersive loss of self in a physical and spiritual process.