Shout Magazine

Mark Kostabi on Leemour Pelli

There’s a great new painter in Chelsea: Leemour Pelli. Hitherto, she’s been known for haunting, translucent, rubbery relief sculptures of starkly exposed yet enigmatic human bodies and her latex casts of ornately framed mirrors which contain intriguing, personal, ghostlike portraits.

Pelli has now surprised her followers with a stunning show of pink paintings. At once abstract an figurative, these accomplished and serious canvases showcase a richly informed arsenal of painterly moves. Deftly employing a palette knife and dry brushes, Pelli selectively smears previously explicit images of Pinocchios, handicapped figures, “ladder figures,” “bed figures” and “women dresses” which occupy mysterious, dreamy, angst-ridden spaces inspired by her favorite writer, Samuel Beckett. These disturbing yet comforting images explore issues of social exploitation, upward mobility and the fragility of existence.

While confronting these confident yet searching works, on might meditate on certain art historical relatives—Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter and Philip Guston—and certain contemporaries—Ryan Mendoza and Ida Applebroog—but ultimately, Leemour Pelli has elegantly defined a new singular voice which, based on her robust productivity, threatens to become an omnipresent icon of early 21st century art.

July 2000