November 5, 2022 – December 14, 2022
Opening: Saturday, Nov 5 and Saturday, Dec 3 6-9 pm
Arthur Roger Gallery presents “Intermission,” a collection of photographs from New York-based photographer, David Leventi. Expanding on the series of photographs of opera houses that became his first monograph, “Opera,” Leventi now focuses attention on the few theaters worldwide using trompe l’œil painted curtains. The tradition of hanging a curtain in the liminal space between performance and spectator—art and reality—has existed for centuries. The curtain became a fourth wall that both veiled preparations for that spectacle and heightened the desire to see behind it the action that is about to unfold.
The painted theatre curtain then takes on a particular magic by conflating that separation and presenting another layer of trickery. These deceptive masterpieces derive from an ancient Greek tale of two artists, Parrhasios and Zeuxis—in competition to show who had more illusionary skill as a painter. Parrhasios, the artist who won, did so by painting a curtain that appeared so real it needed to be drawn back to reveal the still life partially concealed behind it.
In his signature typographic style, Leventi has taken architectural portraits of these curtains, fashioning yet another mask over the theatrical box of illusions. Captivated by the rich hues that occupy these spaces, this series of color studies is a microcosm of his opera houses and a restaging of the expectations spectators feel/encounter waiting for a performance to take place.
In conjunction with–and yet in contrast to—the body of work with which Leventi has become most well known, “Opera,” Arthur Roger Gallery presents his photographs of curtains that exist in an entirely different context.
“Succession” is a typology of the curtains that surround the beds of royals and elites rather than concealing a spectacle that would then be revealed, these *tapestries* delineate/close off/segment the bedchamber as a space of power.
Still, Leventi gained access to the most exclusive and restricted spaces of historical figures like King Ludwig II, Marie-Antoinette, and Empress Maria Feodorovna, and he invites the public to join him where only their inner circles would normally be privy. These are the places where the most privileged of courtiers, statesmen, and guests were permitted.
Drawing back the curtains on these personal spaces raises questions about public and private, democratization, and the bedchamber as a symbol of power or richness. When presented with “Intermission,” this accompanying series compares and elevates the bedchamber to a stage whereupon birth, death, tragedy, and succession have been determined and witnessed by only select individuals and aristocrats.