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Nature in Matvey Levenstein's Canvases

The pictorial works of Matvey Levenstein rejoin the European pictorial tradition, from Italian Mannerism to the representation of nature in the period of German Romanticism, when the intense landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich were the most popular. Today the artist lives and works in New York City. Born in Moscow and raised under the Leonid Brezhnev regime, he left the USSR for good in 1980. After a period spent between Vienna and Rome, he moved to Chicago. An almost cinematic dimension is perceived in Levenstein's paintings that recalls the immobility and melancholy of the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, one of the artist's favorite directors. His canvases have a limited palette against colored backgrounds, his compositions are characterized by layers of paint built up and scraped off slowly and meticulously over the course of many months. Nature is represented in all its dramatic variety: the looming power of a storm cloud, tree branches dissecting a winter sky and, more quietly, a vase of cut flowers sitting on a glass table.

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