Lea Feinstein’s PAGES Turn Vibrant
Keystone Art Space, Los ANgeles
through April 3, 2022
Written by Genie Davis
You’ve all heard the expression “that was a real page turner?” Lea Feinstein’s vivid new works, PAGES, all created in 2022, is exactly that. Moving from work to work throughout the exhibit at Keystone Gallery, that same mesmerized feeling takes hold.
Each work compels you to view the next piece. Viewers both read and absorb the meticulous, flowing movement of the art. Feinstein used Flashe vinyl emulsion on Tyvek to create these layered, mysterious works which closely resemble a potent mix of graffiti and hieroglyphics. Words are linked and combined, creating both a strange sensation of depth, and the passage of time, as if one meaning or phrase had been altered or painted over, year after year, its meaning irrevocably altered.
Most interestingly perhaps, these text-based paintings become abstract art that goes beyond the lettering on them, to form intricate patterns and lustrous outlines, shadows, and the ghosts of meaning. Some works, like the large scale, red, black, and gold “Stranger,” are illuminated, glowing, recalling enlarged details on images of 13th century icons or illuminated manuscripts. “Stranger” is one of my favorite works here, both because of its luminosity and the relatively abstract use of texts that make it less a coded version of the English language and more like the marks of another world.
Other paintings resemble a patterned fabric, something from a distant and perhaps fantastical kingdom, as with the overwritten, stacked lettering of “Seeds.” In “Bottomless Pond,” the aqua-tinged coloring evokes waterways, with the interlocking letters recalling the links of elaborate anchor chains. “Grow” truly does to appear to be growing – the lettering here curled and small, created in a type of script that seems ready to explode and become larger.
But in “Swell/Burst,” the blue letters on a faded-newsprint-like background are clearly printed, if upside down, many with ominous overtones, such as “Eat her skin.” While some works, such as this, compel the viewer to try to read or “make sense of” the words chosen, others are purely pattern, repetitive, and appear to be based on a kind of hypnotic visual rhythm rather than distinct meaning. “Dr. Pepper” is an example of this style.
There are also a series of smaller, 12 x 12, or 10 x 10, images that appear seasonally inspired, such as the pale peach and brighter sea green of “Lilies,” which seems to bring its words, including the title, to blossom; and the fierce aqua and gold of “Ando,” which recalls the gilding of a still chilly but bright New Year. The darker “Rain” evokes the fall.
Throughout Feinstein’s exhibition, both palette and word choice combine in visual poetry, perhaps unsurprising as many of the words were taken from the artist’s own poems written in past years. Together, the impressive mix of large and more diminutive works create a marvelous visual manuscript – a novel for the eyes to devour.