In a nod to the still-life painters of the Dutch Golden Age, North Carolina-based artist Andrew Leventis considers the historical and contemporary significance of vanitas. Inspired by photographs of fridge contents taken by his friends and colleagues, Leventis’ images are strikingly familiar. They speak of domesticity, a quiet intimacy that is part of our everyday lives. Each interior tells a story: packed shelves that betray a sense of hurried anxiety, surgically clean steel compartments half-filled with raw meat, or neatly arranged dairy products and condiments to satisfy an overindulgent palate. Although less explicit, the core themes of vanitas paintings—the fragility and transience of life and the hollowness of worldly pleasures—are present. Traditional symbols of the genre like skulls, extinguished candles, books, and musical instruments are replaced by sets of whole chickens, a pig head, a slab of butter, or everyday treats, such as a carton of heavy cream, a jar of pickles, or beer bottles. Similarly, decadent piles of objects existing purely for our own entertainment and satisfaction reflect our futile desire for hedonistic consumption in contemporary society and a primal need for self-preservation. Leventis began to work on this series during the Covid pandemic, which forced him to grapple with the caducity of life. His oeuvre casts a spotlight on our human shortcomings and fears, but does so with compassion and understanding, for others as well as himself.
Leventis received an MFA in Fine Arts from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and an MA in Fine Art from Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting from the American Academy of Art, Chicago. He has exhibited internationally at museums and galleries and most recently at Mint Museum Uptown, Charlotte, NC (2022); Venice Arsenale, Italy (2021); York Art Gallery, UK (2021); and Arts Visalia, Visalia, CA (2021). Forthcoming exhibitions include the Whitaker Museum, Rossendale, UK, and Neon Gallery, Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design, Wroclaw, Poland. Leventis lives and works in Charlotte, North Carolina.