Before leaving San Francisco for New York in 1982, Noah Levin was painting large
images of bare walls and floors suffused in light and shadow. Charles Shere wrote, "She
is painting super-realistic architectural details, highlighting them with a saturated palette
of strong mauves, ochres, blues and oranges, but the real subject of her painting is the
space and light filling those interiors. Her work recalls that of Gordon Cook and Jan
Levin returned to San Francisco in 1998 and took her camera to Stow Lake, a few blocks
from where she lives. Using photos as a springboard, she developed a series of paintings
about light and shadow on water. To bring in more color, Levin found a school of koi that
she visited regularly in the Japanese Tea Garden. Over two years the koi paintings
evolved into Koi Nocturne, an expression of her fascination with light in dark places.
As she worked her way through the series, she pared down until only parts of the fish
were seen fleetingly as they swam off the edges of the paintings--glimmers of light
passing through a watery darkness.
Since 2003 Levin has been painting the varying blue waters of swimming pools--from
the geometric minimalism of motels to the lushness of garden pools. What all her
paintings share is a sense of stillness and mystery. The more time spent with them,
the more there is to see.
Noah Phyllis Levin's 2006 exhibition