While legally blind, Michael LeVell is a connoisseur of magazine Architectural Digest. He studies the periodical’s images closely, then reduces the architectural gaze to its most salient lines and forms. The resulting acrylic paintings are saturated color fields of abstracted interiors that seem at once timeless and refreshingly contemporary.
LeVell renders his exterior landscapes in colored pencil with bold geometry and mostly primary colors. He covers the paper multiple times and then redacts it to produce richly texture surfaces. LeVell then finishes the works with hand drawn frames in various colors, including pastels, that help to create dimensionality and a sophisticated sculptural effect.
There is an evocative tactile quality to LeVell’s two dimensional pieces that he teases out in his slab ceramic works. LeVell makes two distinct types of rough-hewn, hand-shaped objects: furniture and abstract geometric forms. Both have direct relationships to his interior and exterior paints and drawings, and placed within the gallery installation, they act as bridges between the 2D styles. Studying the objects in this perspective allows the viewer to see the surprising connections between the brutalist geometric forms and the interiors, as well as the formalism joining the furniture and the exterior drawings.
Like fellow black Angeleno and legally blind contemporary artist Dominique Moody, LeVell moves easily between works on paper and sculpture. An intuitive spatial awareness builds a cohesion of loose form, line and density of color. And like Claude Monet who also was visually impaired, these artists make what they see and feel in a way that offers the viewer a glimpse into an abstracted articulation of the world around us.