Dean Levin (b.1988)

Biography

Dean Levin was born in Johannesburg, grew up in California and now lives and works in New York. Though he dreamt of becoming an artist in high school, Levin chose to study for a Bachelor of Architecture at the Pratt Institute, which he was awarded in 2012.

It was after leaving the Pratt Institute, whilst designing bathrooms for an architecture firm, that Levin began to produce his first series of work, the surface stains. Levin said in an interview that it was having spent a lot of time looking at tile samples that he "started to fall in love with the natural beauty of the tiled grid and wanted to incorporate it into painting." Such architectural elements as the mapping of space by means of the grid are important for the engagement of the viewer with the work. Levin designed an armature for his surface stains in order that they enter into the space of the gallery, as a sculpture to be engaged with physically rather than on a purely optical level. Levin also tells us that by pushing the work out into the surrounding space that space is brought back into the work as image. The dimensions of each work, or the space that they occupy, Levin determines as relative to his own dimensions as well as the dimensions of the architecture in which it is created or, if created for a show, in which it will be placed.

This interest in personal relativity pervades Levin's draughtsmanship. The grids in his work are hand drawn; Levin sees beauty in the imperfections resulting from human error, which he hopes to bring out in contrast with the flat surfaces onto which they are drawn. Where the drawn grid registers the trace of his hand, the surface stains register the trace of Levin's studio insofar the grid of the tiles is imprinted with the dirt of its floor. Levin went on to develop this idea in a series of archive paintings, which incorporate the remains of the processes used to create other works.