Michael Levin – Evidence

Michael Levin CODE 5x5

Code, Michael Levin, ultrachrome photographic print on aluminum

There’s a new exhibit at the Elliott Louis Gallery in Vancouver showing the work of Michael Levin.  It runs until October 20th.

If you like simplicity, spareness, austerity, meditation and silence, you will like this work. It’s photography, all in gray scale. There’s not the slightest bit of colour.

There is a stillness in each of the images. All of them are ultra chrome prints flush mounted onto plates of aluminum which is a beautiful contemporary way to present photos. They stand out from the stark white wall by an inch or so, thereby creating a shadow, the only framing that they have.

One might be forgiven if they found the images simple. They are, in fact simplified by his photographic process which, by long exposure, somehow eliminates the unnecessary, the transitory,  leaving a minimalist feel to all his works. But these works need time to absorb.  A work like “Code” appears to be low flat rafts covered by tarps.  There are two long ones and two shorter ones. Given the title, they seem to allude to bar coding, or perhaps refer only to the mysteriousness they create, lying separate and isolated from all other imagery on a fog-flattened sea. The horizon is just barely visible half way up the picture plane.

Of course, that begs the question. How much can be attributed to the artist’s intent and how much to the viewer’s own experience? Once an artist lets his work go, that is, exhibits it, then he becomes subject to the viewers interpretations as much as he subjects the viewer to his own visual statement, largely unexplained by words.

If you can’t get to see the show, there are a number of images to be seen at this site:


Michael Leving Biwako-1

Biwako, Michael Levin, ultrachrome photographic print on aluminum

Though the compositions are widely varied, each is a study in balance and equilibrium. Each image is selected with designed elegance to serve the vision of this young artist.

He has already won prestigious awards for his work – Fine Art Photographer of the Year both in 2007 and 2009 Prix de Photographie in Paris. He also came first in the Fine Art and Professional Fine Art categories at the International Photography Awards in New York.

The only thing I haven’t figured, from looking at this good sized exhibition, is how he links the title of the exhibition with the work.

If you are in Vancouver and have a chance to drop by the gallery which is on East 1st Avenue a block east of Main and one block north of Great Northern Way, you will also get to see some of the other emerging artists and mid-career gallery artists. – Lourdes Lara with her poetically titled imaginary landscapes; Mark Tulio with his high realism portraits and still life works; and Dimitri Papatheodorou with his minimalist abstracts done meticulously in oil on panel, to name just a few. It makes for an excellent show.


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4 Responses to “Michael Levin – Evidence”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    Thank-you for this info. Went to the website and viewed more of Levin’s images and I am really drawn to the peacefulness of them.

  2. forestrat Says:

    I love to read your reviews of the various art shows you attend. You seem to be in an area where you can see lots of great stuff. I envy you – upstate NY is not exactly an art mecca.

    I too followed the link to the gallery page for more images of Levin’s work. I wish I could see them in person. I’m sure the large sizes and the minimal mounting add quite a bit to the power of the photographs.

    I like the one titled “30 Road”. I see these round bales of hay everyday and I often try to think of a good way to photograph them, but haven’t come up with anything yet. Levin’s perspective is great.

    Unfortunately I have seen far too many of the “lonely things in the misty water” images to take much notice of those. Maybe this guy was the first to do it, but now everybody is doing it.

    The waterfall is not very exciting. Pretty run of the mill stuff there. The “Canal Ring – diptych” seems poorly exposed and not very interesting in the first place.

    “New Concrete” is just a mystery. Is that a building? Is it really something small that only looks big? It’s cool. I just don’t know what it is.

    One thing that strikes me about the photos is how clean they are. Empty expanses of moving water I can see being uniform, but even the road surface in front of the bales is absolutely clean and smooth and evenly colored – no stones, no imperfections in the surface, no scratches in the paint of the lines, no roadside trash, no power lines, no buildings, no signs, no nothin’. Did he sweep up before he took the pic or were things removed by computer? I don’t think I could find a roadside that pristine in a million years around here.

    I guess the sterile aspect of the images is part of the allure, but it worries me.


  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    It’s great to have another professional photographer add a comment.
    I’m looking from an image point of view, but I have little technical expertise, so your comments are very welcome.
    Did you look at his web site and read his information about process? Apparently the long exposure eliminates much of the detail, providing that clean look – but I have no way of evaluating it. Are you able to explain what he’s doing in the process?

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