For over thirty years Renée Levi (*1960 in Istanbul, lives and works in Basel) has been questioning the medium of painting. She investigates colour, the application of paint, its body, and its space on various image carriers as well as in installations. While doing so, she always proceeds intuitively in her practice. This is reflected in the titles of her works, for which she chooses traditionally female first names. Her most recent solo exhibition at PHILIPPZOLLINGER is entitled “GINNY”.
With tremendous physical effort, Levi paints or sprays large-format walls, MDF panels, plasterboards, wooden panels and canvases with bold colours. There are no limits to her love of experimentation. Levi goes so far as to include the use of cleaning rags as painting utensils. Despite these grand gestures, she is perpetually immersed in a more subdued dialogue with the overall context of the exhibition space. Thus, Levi constantly reinvents her paintings. She temporarily sets aside works that have been started, or even exhibited, and develops them further, adapting to various spaces. In her most recent body of work, Levi draws unusual, geometric shapes. Dynamically sprayed colours are contrasted against monochrome and strictly linear surfaces. In this way, she limits the fleeting, or the accidental, with clear lines and accordingly questions our perceptions.
In line with her process-based approach, the paintings presented in the exhibition "GINNY" were created within the last few months, as Renée Levi repeatedly renews her work. On the upper level of the gallery, visitors encounter three paintings. These works originated from a single canvas. In a sweeping gesture, Levi placed the canvas on the floor and used a mop to apply blue lines, gradually moving inward from the picture’s edge. She then divided the large canvas into three, spatial-related formats and reframed them with a fine, differentiating line: The individual fragments gain a newly created sense of freedom.
Renée Levi's paintings always go beyond their imagined space. They appear boundless as they extend past the image carrier. As a viewer, one believes to be in the pictorial space, spatial image, or even existing in a new area of thought altogether.
Renée Levi was born in Istanbul in 1960 and grew up in Aargau. Today she lives and works in Basel. After studying architecture at the HTL Muttenz/Basel and working for the Basel architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, she studied at the Zurich School of Art and Design. In 1998 she started working together with Marcel Schmid as a studio partner. Recent solo exhibitions include at Villa du Parc (Annemasse, 2021); Musée d’Art, Histoire et Archéologie d’Évreux (2020); Biennale de Lyon (2019); Museum Langmatt (Baden, 2019); Istituto Svizzero Milan (2019) and at Galerie Freymond-Guth (Basel, 2017). In addition, the artist has been included in numerous group exhibitions, such as at MAMCO (Geneva, 2021); Öktem Aykut (Instanbul, 2020); Istituto Svizzero Rome (2019); Vin Vin (Vienna, 2018) or at Kunstverein Munich (2015). Renée Levi has received several awards, including the Prix de la Société des Arts de Genève, Arts Visuel, in 2019, or the Prix Meret Oppenheim in 2002. Since 2001, she has held a professorship in fine arts and painting at FHNW/HGK Basel.