We had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with SINGULART artist, David Levy, to learn more about his background, inspiration and process for his abstract illusionary paintings.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a painter based in Philadelphia, United States of America. I was born in New York City, and I grew up in a household where art and creative thinking were a way of life. My mother was an expressive and eccentric person who had no problem expressing herself through her art and jewelry. Amongst myself and my three sisters, I was the only child who gravitated toward what she did. The whole artistic gene pool kind of fell onto me, I guess!
Growing up, I always wanted to go to art school, but my father did not think that it was a good career choice for me. So instead, I went to business school to study and receive my degree in marketing so that I could work in advertising. This way I could be in a field that had some flavor of creativity for me. I actually really flourished in that environment and loved the work I was doing so much that I owned my own business for a while. Later on, I sold the business to a partner and retired.
On my first day of retirement, I donated my desk to replace it with easels and art supplies, converting my office into a studio, where I have been immersing myself in painting every day.
How would you describe the kind of work you make?
My work is hard-edge illusionary abstraction based on my use of air-brushing shadow detail to create the illusion of depth and curiosity. The French term trompe-l’oeil (or deceiving the eye) is much of where my work lives.
Who or what are your sources of inspiration?
My ideas are based on observations and curiosities I have throughout my life where I ask myself, “What if…”. For instance, the paint roller series I am working on manifested because I was watching another artist using this tool on his canvas, and I asked myself, “ What if the paint roller looked like there was an abstract painting coming right off of it onto the surface?”
However, my inspirations for my work come not only from these thoughts and observations but are really rooted in my emotions and processes of my past. So while my work are these abstract paintings, there is a human element to them.
Are there any contemporary artists at the moment whose work you admire?
Oh yes! I love the artists that many people have probably heard of a million times, like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, but I absolutely love the work of Tomma Abts and Paul Kramer.
What’s the most rewarding material you work with, and why?
Birch wood. I build my own birch wood cradles because my work demands a strong solid surface to enable the precision of my edge work and to support the objects I place on them.
Talk me through your creative process, from the initial idea to the realization of the final artwork.
Each morning when I wake up, while still in bed, I take my phone and I type out all of the ideas I have in my head in the moment. It’s the genesis of exciting things, and I now have an unlimited number of ideas on my phone that haven’t been painted yet; just ideas for the future. I work in a limited number of series for each idea until I am bored and ready to move on to the next one.
My process varies from project to project, but I always draft and render my concepts on my computer before I start painting. This helps me explore and execute the precision I strive for in my work. I’ve been a lover and forever student of technology since personal computers came onto the scene.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
My Paint Roller series is my current focus. I’ve completed 5 of them, with another 5 to come. I am also entering a show at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia later this year. I’m having an absolute blast with what I am doing.