Roz Leibowitz at Sears-Peyton (Red Dot)

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Roz Liebowitz The Night Kitchen 2006 graphite on vintage paper 18" x 13.75" (23" x 17.5" framed) [large detail of installation]


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Roz Liebowitz The Mask 2001 graphite on paper 12" x 7" [installation view]


I ended up at Red Dot today after almost a full week of art fairs, and at least two special group shows. I ended up only missing out on L.A. Art, and I'm sorry for that. We just ran out of time, even if it was the exhibition located closest to our apartment. To see what I missed I turned to the intrepid Art Fag City.


Red Dot may not be alone among the fairs in the enormous range between its highs and its lows, but I think that if I can still get excited about new work after the sensory immersion of the past week it must say something for the artist. I don't report on bad art, so in this and I hope in a few other entries I will try to show something of the best things I saw this afternoon on 28th Street.

Sears-Peyton was showing a number of delicate pencil drawings by Roz Leibowitz. They are romantic, hermetic, symbolist, sometimes pseudo-scientific, but always profoundly weird, their imagery sliding somewhere between the natural and the paranormal, but each of them as delicate as fine lace but as indelible as a tatoo.

Once spotted, whether lying on top of a hotel bedstread or hanging on a wall, these drawings are almost impossible to ignore.

The artist's statement on the gallery website:

My work is influenced by the Victorian Romantic sensibility, and the idea of Victorian womanhood as expressed in the pseudo-sciences of that period. Phrenology, spiritualism, utopianism, mental healing, mesmerism, table-rapping, all of these flourished during the nineteenth century at a time when the industrial/scientific philosophy became the dominate world view. The fact that these so-called fringe movements were led by women is not lost on me; the women in my drawings act as conduits to this shadow world. I consider them characters playing out their roles in an alternative reality, a reality which is still available to all of us if we open our imaginations in the truest romantic sense.

My background is in history and literature; I worked for years as a librarian and am an avid collector of books and ephemera from the nineteenth century occult. Most of the paper in my drawings comes from ledgers or letters or diaries culled from my collections. I feel much more at home working on papers that contain traces of the past. In this current series, I use the simplest of media �a pencil� to create veils of intricate patterns and decoration. I also make use of simple formal devices such as borders and captions to mimic Victorian illustration. I consider my small drawings as pages loosed from a long, dreamy novel, and my hope is that the reader, or viewer, will catch glimpses of this odd narrative, and want to read on.