23 Jun 2010
Myriam F. Levy’s Desert Rythems show at the Engine Gallery
By Moshe Mikanovsky
Shalom Toronto, June 24 2010
When I entered couple of weeks ago the Engine Gallery at the Historic Distillery District, joining visual artist Myriam F. Levy, gallery owner, director and curator Steven Schwartz, and friends, at the opening of her solo exhibit “Desert Rhythms”, with African music playing at the background, I couldn’t stop thinking about this connection. And when I talked with Levy and Schwartz, both told me in their own words, how musical the paintings are.
As an abstract painter, Myriam’s medium of choice is encaustic. Encaustic is an ancient technique also known as hot wax painting, which involves using heated wax to which colored pigments are added. The encaustic medium has a unique ability to be worked and reworked. Modeling, scraping, incising and incorporating different materials are some of the exciting possibilities this medium can offer. I had the unique opportunity to learn from Levy at her studio the technique, medium and tools of Encaustic art, and saw firsthand how she constructs her images, layer by layer, listening to her inner music and rhythm.
“Desert Rhythms”, the name of the show, gives us few clues to Levy’s influences. As a hobby, she loves playing the Djembe, an African skin-covered hand drum, which she plays regularly with a group of friends. The rhythm of the drum’s music, with the beat and off-beat sequences, where one feels not only the sounds, but in between them, is like breathing. The same in Levy’ art – each painting has its own rhythm, constructed by vertical or horizontal lines, in different width and spaces between them, breathing with colors, tones and under tones. Using the encaustic technique, Levy creates layer after layer of colors, some hidden and some revealed by incising and scratching.
This leads to Levy’s major influence – nature, and for this show, the desert of the silk road (which led through Israel), especially the hidden mysteries, history and stories of the ancient people that rode it, and left behind traces such as trading stations remnants. On the surface the deserts always look lifeless, but underneath they are full of life. Water marks are everywhere, with canyons and wadis created during centuries of sudden floods. Animals live under rocks and underground. Bare and knotty acacias standing twisted by winds and exposure to the element. In the artworks, we can find in the details similar traces, shapes and marks, that each one of us can interpret differently and individually, based on our imagination and personal experiences.
This is Levy’s first solo show at the Engine Gallery, but she has been represented by the gallery for some time now, participating in several group shows. Gallery owner, director and curator Steven Schwartz told me about the immediate connection he had with Levy’s work. Representing many Canadian and International artists, including several Israeli artists, each with their own style, Schwartz must feel the art to be able to fulfill his commitment for both artist and collector. He is privileged and excited to exhibit Levy’s art, show it to the gallery’s clients and enrich the art scene in Toronto. Engine Gallery, in its central location at the artistic Distillery District is the perfect background for the colorful massive pieces.
Levy’s solo show just ended this week, but her works can still be viewed on regular basis at the Engine Gallery. I encourage all art lovers to see Levy and her art – it will definitely lift your spirit!
Engine Gallery’s current exhibits feature artist Diana Bennett, who dealt with her grandaughter’s cancer through her resin pieces, and artist Costa Dvorezky’s “Adam and Eve”.
Moshe Mikanovsky writes for Shalom Toronto on Israeli Art matters in Toronto. (email@example.com, www.mikanovsky.com)
- Two Israeli Artists, Two Worlds of Arts featuring Myriam F. Levy