Leah Durner’s newest body of work consists of lively, large-scale, gestural paintings in gouache on colored paper that exude a rich understanding of luscious color and strong composition. Each piece, stripped to an abstract and harmonious balance, is the sum of the artist’s intuitive decisions, mapped through eloquent mark making. Durner’s nuanced palette sets up tension and surprises. By turns subtle or jarring, it bursts with energy and elegance. At times the artist matches her paint to the paper color, playing with the push and pull of depth and surface, and that which is there but almost invisible: a conceptual fluctuation of color as painted or unpainted. There is an undeniably sensual quality to the paint brushed onto the paper’s surface as it modulates knowingly between generously applied paint that leaves delicate drips and the dryer, brushier strokes. A true painter’s painter, Durner’s work draws unexpected parallels between the old and modern masters: Titian, Rubens, De Kooning, and Joan Mitchell, among others, and Durner clearly delights and excels in her medium.
Durner’s work has been exhibited at Wooster Arts Space, Nye Basham Studio, Art Gotham, Berry College, Cazenovia College, Barbara Ann Levy Gallery, Coup de Grace Gallery, and SoHo Center for Visual Arts, and she has been artist-in-residence at the Leighton Studios for Independent Residencies at Banff Centre for the Arts. Durner has also curated exhibitions, published art theory, and lectured on a number of topics, including the American landscape, gestural abstraction and phenomenology, conceptualism and its sources, the work of artist Dan Graham, and the composers Maryanne Amacher and John Cage. She received her BA from Wake Forest University and her MFA from Rutgers University where she studied art theory with Martha Rosler and painting with Leon Golub.