New York City, NY
June Leaf’s vision is deeply personal and bravely frank in addressing the frailties of the human condition. Her work falls within a trajectory of the fantastic: the fraught, symbolic mental landscapes introduced into Western art by Hieronymus Bosch and continuing in various strains with Francisco Goya, James Ensor, Odilon Redon, and the Surrealists.
Leaf’s imagery frequently suggests a direct and physical struggle between men, women, and unseen forces, with control up for grabs and outcomes uncertain. She often combines ink, charcoal, and chalk with acrylic paint in vibrant colors on mottled, distressed surfaces. With a skittering touch, she builds shape with an almost paradoxically unstable force—her forms can look as if they are in the process of becoming and might dissolve at any moment. Leaf lets the chance of splotches and splatters interact with more deliberate rendering, her virtuosity and control always present.
This exhibition presents the artist’s remarkable achievement in drawing over the past five decades in a dense installation conceived to suggest how these works of art inhabit her studio; it will also include a smaller selection of Leaf’s sculpture and painting.
Credit: Exhibition overview from the Whitney Museum website