William Leavitt

Cycladic Figures

September 09, 2017 —
October 21, 2017


VIEW WORK

PRESS RELEASE

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present William Leavitt: Cycladic Figures. A reception will be held at the gallery from 6–8pm on September 9, 2017, and the exhibition will remain on view through October 23, 2017.

The artworks on view in William Leavitt: Cycladic Figures portray worlds layered upon worlds, each suggestive of an uncanny science fiction story met with Southern California vernacular design and architecture. In Faraday Cage, for example, a wood and metal cage used to block electromagnetic fields envelopes a plastic lawn chair. Both objects are situated in front of the false walls and props of a film set designed to resemble a makeshift garage laboratory. The scene was employed as a set in William Leavitt's new film Cycladic Figures, and its recontextualization as a sculpture suggests that Leavitt isn't just creating images within which a narrative may take place but an entire alternate reality on a parallel plane. By displaying sets from his plays or films as sculptural installations and by including his paintings in the sets for his plays or films, Leavitt destabilizes the medium and location of his works. The result yields multiple perspectives: an array of objects in physical space, a suggested narrative playing out in the viewer's mind, and a working set in a film.

Leavitt further explores these ideas of multiplicity in his paintings and works on paper. In his Head Space series, the faces of two figures appear in silhouette. The figures—along with the title of the exhibition—refer to sculptures produced in the Cyclades islands off the coast of Greece nearly five thousand years ago. The backgrounds comprise faraway landscapes, urban settings, and grassy fields. Rather than creating a traditional portrait, Leavitt offers the faces as picture planes unto themselves, the silhouettes filled with images of ancient architectural remains or an array of objects floating in space. As in Leavitt's sculptural installations, his painted scenes are composed of layers that beckon us to engage our imaginations with the stories they offer.

Since the late 1960s, Los Angeles-based artist William Leavitt's work has been the subject of numerous one-person exhibitions including an extensive survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2011. The Musée d'art moderne et contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland will present a retrospective in October 2017. Leavitt's work has been included in thematic exhibitions around the world and is housed in public collections such as Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.