My name is Elena (Lena) Maslova-Levin, I live in Fremont, California, and I find it impossible to put an accurate descriptive label on myself.
A reader once called me a "philosopher-artist", and I like that (I really do), but even that doesn't feel quite right.
So instead of labels, let me just tell you about four core themes that define my life and work.
- I am in love with the impermanence of human life, the deliciously fleeting quality of all its moments and experiences — it is a cause for celebration, not for existential Angst.
- I venerate Art, all of it, and think of myself and my work as a vehicle of synergetic connections between its magnificent past and emerging future.
- Painting, the practice of painting, is what makes me feel truly alive. It is my practice of presence, of being here and now.
- But the practice of painting faces a strong competition with the insatiable urge of a scholar — by the urge to comprehend everything and express this understanding in words, with simplicity and precision.
To see how these themes play themselves out in my life, please have a look at this CV-like summary of my life and work, or read this story of a life lived on the edge between Art and Mind.
But when all is said and done, this website is about paintings — paintings as a vehicle of human connection, as a way to share something that cannot be expressed in words.
You will find here no "social proof" of the value of my work, no indication of its acceptance by others or lack thereof – no lists of exhibitions, acquisitions, memberships, prizes, collections and whatnot; and it also means: no societal pressures and rules, so ubiquitous in the outside world: you are completely on your own here, as I am in my studio – and a connection either happens or it does not.
This connection, if it happens, is one of the strangest and least comprehensible things in the world:
Is it not strange that sheep's guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?
— Benedick asks himself in frustration in Much ado about nothing.
The essence of art's magic is here captured in a single line, as though accidentally, almost clownishly.
In painting, it is, of course, neither sheep's guts nor plain everyday words, but linseed oil and powdered minerals heaped onto a piece of canvas. But it makes it even more magic and miraculous, because a painting just sits there, on a wall or on your screen.
It doesn't initiate a contact with you, doesn't guide you through a story; it just silently waits to be seen. You can pass by it, you can click away, but if you pause and see, your response to it is completely your own. This response is the final missing ingredient, absolutely necessary for the miracle to happen.