The Source is the Goal
Altman Siegel is pleased to present Devin Leonardi's second exhibition with the gallery. In a departure from his previous work, which was exclusively acrylic on paper, Leonardi will present an exhibition of exquisite, small-scale oil paintings on canvas.
Leonardi's works are primarily figurative and take cues from classical painting traditions. They aim to subvert standard viewing by emphasizing an anonymity that Leonardi sees as the potential within photography to provide an image of the world whose details grow more diffuse with the passage of time. In order to highlight this concept, Leonardi bases his paintings on photographs from the 1850s to the 1880s attributed to artists as varied as Thomas Eakins, Oscar Rejlander and Lady Clementina Hawarden. In every case he has either edited down or re-combined these images into new compositions that he makes his own through oil paint, revealing something beyond their respective subjects by illuminating the nature of the photographic illusion itself.
Leonardi asserts that while photography can provide a perfectly detailed image of the world, it also retains just as much potential to blur that image without a caption or memory to ground it. For Leonardi, this conflict reveals itself most clearly at the dawn of modernity when photography began to contest painting's supremacy in the art historical canon. By re-working these photos, Leonardi expresses his ambivalence toward more disposable methods of image making, and uses the mediums and language of art history to make the dual nature of the photographic illusion more apparent.
Devin Leonardi (b. 1981) lives and works in Missoula, Montana. Recent exhibitions include, "Sentimental Panorama" and "Germany is your America" at Broadway 1602, NYC, and "Bread Box" at Zieher Smith, Nashville, TN. His work is in the collections of many prestigious public and private institutions, including the Whitney Museum, NY.