"REVIEW art" Magazine*. December15,1996 ... The recent works of
Jerome A Levin grab this viewer with instant fascination borne of a
sense of displacement. Levin's images are prevalently grisaille, in
white and black, the latter tending to include sepia tones. What
medium? Large manipulated, semi-abstract photographs? Could it
be painting? Indeed it is. Abstract? No we discern figurative
elements evoking ancient landscapes or architectures branded by
big white forms as extreme as holes in the canvas itself. The
pictures are oil paintings on linen. If someone fancies grand, garish
and Shnabelesque canvases, he should avoid this show. With
apologies to Julian Schnabel, who this viewer suspects would like
Levin's works. Schnabel too, is a savy large-scale abstractionist
who is at his best when less is more. In a press release from the
gallery we read that the paintings may be described as works that
fuse abstract and conceptual currents of contemporary art with
nineteenth century romantic landscape traditions. "In these dark,
heavily glazed works, Levin emphasizes a relationship between
white ambiguous fragments that appear to hover over darkened
washes on monochromatic landscape, thus creating a new mental
visual context whose chief component is a sense of mystery and
awe. The stark contrast between background and foreground
emphasizes the play between the codes of semi-representation and
complete abstraction. These enigmatic neo- symbolist paintings
reside in a state of suspension between hope and futility, dread and
wonder." This lucide evaluation does not disclose the whole of
Levin's message: the white is the white of the soul which maintains
its purity forever. The soul transmigrates through space and time, in
an endless journey from darkness to light, but never loses its purity,
which is life itself. Of his work, Levin has pointed out that: "what
propels me to paint is to find myself somewhere else amid
uncharted and evanescent territories for what we see today is here
today only. Nothing is fixed in time and space. In the face of this,
there is very little that I can do but paint something outside my
understanding, and raise new questions, and perhaps in these
questions lies the experience of wonder." The soul may journey in a
state of Kurishi, a Japanese word for utter sadness and despair;
Yoko Ono used this word as the name for a beautiful song she
wrote. In all this pain, the journey visited through Levin's work is
joyous and liberating. His paintings are very serious and deep,
witnessing a lucide and evolved spirituality. In the last past part of
this century, after the atomic bomb, one of our subconscious and
biggest fears have been Black Holes. Levin offers us White Holes.