My minimalist works are a confluence of art and language, an exploration of linguistic structure and similarities between visual and literary arts. Building sentences is both a narrative and visual experience, a meeting of logic and lyric. I am fascinated with painting technique and the physical qualities of pigments and oil media. My works have thirty or more translucent layers of oil paint, which accumulate into a complex surface that is filled with light and hints of color. The constructed, shaped support surfaces emphasize the "objectness" of the work and all its elements. The paintings cross boundaries into sculpture.

These works confront the transitory nature of being—of here and not here. Is our imagination not just as real as the physical world? Is the abstract not as real as the representational? The paintings hover against the wall, sometimes appearing solid as stone with their surface, shape, depth, and shadow, other times nearly disappearing in their whiteness. The silvery words convey meaning, but also shimmer as pattern and shape and sometimes get lost in the background. Some of the works emphatically assert their presence in the world, while others live in a more ambiguous realm, a place in between.

Echoing Strunk and White’s advice in The Elements of Style to “omit needless words,” every choice of word, typeface, format, and composition is considered. Just as an editor pares a sentence to make it succinct, I remove any element not contributing to the whole, but make sure every element counts.

The world has turned completely askew with the devastation caused by the coronavirus, political upheaval, climate change, economic uncertainly, loss of civil rights and abortion rights, and so much more. So much that we have depended on, that we thought we knew to be true, has changed. These paintings began as an abstract theory about the transient nature of reality but have turned into a response to an unsettling world.


Joan Levinson grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, the city she will always consider home. She now happily lives and maintains a studio in Brooklyn, New York. 

Contact Joan for more information about her artwork and prices or to have your name added to the mailing list for exhibit announcements and news.

 JL at joanlevinson dot net