Aubrey Levinthal’s figurative paintings and still lifes suggest meditative and melancholic atmosphere that offer less a portrait of her subjects than an evocation of an emotional state, expressing her interest in what she calls the “uncanny in our everyday lives.” Drawing on scenes and experiences from her life, she slowly builds up layers of thin, semitransparent washes of paint on panel and then scrapes them down with a razor, lending her works an ethereal quality as if seen through the haze of time.  

In her most recent body of work, Levinthal shifts from a focus on her private life to encounters in the public sphere, all while continuing her emphasis on intimacy, close observation, and restrained compositions. In Airport, two figures sit facing one another at a small, circular table against the unmistakable setting of an airport terminal—its enormous windows opening to a gray tarmac and cloudy sky. One of the most striking features of this work is the merged faces of the seated couple: the bearded face of the rear figure joins the turned face of the closest figure to create a singular tonal plane, where the subtlest brushstrokes both define and defy the edges of the two figures. Likely a portrait of the artist and her husband, the painting reflects Levinthal’s characteristic use of distortion to heighten the mood and convey narratives within her paintings. “I hope my work is a real, tender accounting of my particular visual life,” says the artist. “The paintings can be inventive and distorted, as I often work from memory and through process, but I want them to carry resonance of my experience, which happens to be as a painter, woman, and mother.”