Katya Leonovich – EVERYDAY HEROES
October 4-November 13, 2023
706 Avenue of the Americas, New York
NEW YORK – “Everyday Heroes,” an exhibition of new paintings and photographs by artist Katya Leonovich, will be on view at Leonovich Gallery from October 4-November 13, 2023. A catalogue with an essay by exhibition curator Kathleen Cullen will be available.
The exhibition’s theme is work by men in its many manifestations. The twenty-two portraits of cleaners, construction workers, barbers, taxi drivers, electricians, policemen, firemen and waiters, noticed by Leonovich in her New York neighborhood, are painted from photographs and successfully capture a moment in New York City urban life. In a recent article in The Atlantic, Spencer Kornblauer says there is currently a real desire for working class heroes and authenticity in art as exemplified by Oliver Anthony’s hit song “Rich Men North of Richmond.”
Through a female lens, Leonovich’s garish, bold, confrontational, confident and empathetic paintings, skillfully reveal the essential aspects of her male subjects’ humanity and diversity. While not overtly sexual, the paintings have symbolic allusions to sex and desire. “I like men, I prefer to paint them,” says Leonovich.
Leonovich is influenced by the figurative explosion of Renaissance paintings and the German Neue Sachlichkeit or New Objectivity painters and their interest for a return to daily reality within art. Her portrait painting process starts with an encounter with a prospective subject followed by photographs taken with her iPhone. With picture in hand, Leonovich gets to work. She paints very quickly, sometimes one painting a day, hands and faces are key. She found her groove after finishing the first portrait when she realized that she could make her paintings as fresh as a sketches, almost like action paintings. Leonovich uses a lot of oil paint to place light upon dark creating an otherworldly light. Tapping into the “ugly painting” conversation, Leonovich’s portraits are good examples of aesthetic provocation with her aggressive brushwork and warped figures.
Leonovich’s portraits are not satirical nor do they pass moral judgement. They are portals into the personal worlds of people we all observe but rarely get to know. They are explorations of portrait paintings’ possibilities.
Katya Leonovich, Delivery Man, 2023, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches
Katya Leonovich, Taxi Driver, 2023, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches
Katya Leonovich, Fireman, 2023, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches
Katya Leonovich, Barber, 2023, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches
About Katya Leonovich
Born in Moscow, Leonovich has been painting and drawing since childhood. She continued painting and drawing while studying at the Moscow State Textile University. In 1995, Leonovich exhibited her paintings at the Line Art Fair in Ghent, Belgium and in 1996 at Art Jonction Cannes. In 1998, Leonovich moved to Rome to pursue a career as fashion designer. While in Rome, she took classes at the European Institute of Design and won the Smirnoff International Competition and Milan’s prestigious Mittelmoda Premio Fashion Award for best designer (Elio Fiorucci was her patron.) At this time, Leonovich worked for the Italian fashion brand Gattinoni and designed her famous “Alive Dress” for Madonna. Concurrently, Leonovich pursued her interest in the visual arts by making paintings and studying painting restoration. Her first art exhibition in Rome was in 2001 at Bosi Contemporary. In 2008, Leonovich moved to New York and exhibited at Fremin Gallery and Monkdogz Gallery. In New York, she continued her fashion career and participated in fashion shows during NYFW. Cyndi Lauper and Carrie Underwood were clients. In 2016, Leonovich had a solo show at ProArt Gallery in Dubai and in 2017 at the Iris Gallery in Dubai. Leonovich has exhibited at several art fairs including: Scope Miami, Bridge Art Fair, Art Southampton, The Affordable Art Fair, Superfine and Art Palm Beach. She continues to live and work in New York.
About Leonovich Gallery
Founded by artist Katya Leonovich in 2021, Leonovich Gallery is located at 706 Avenue of the Americas in New York. The gallery represents American and international artists, sculptors and designers with a focus on female artists. www.leonovichgallery.com