Born in Bronx, New York in 1927, multidisciplinary artist Alfred Leslie gained notice in the postwar period on the strength of his early abstract paintings, later figurative works, and independent films. Leslie shifted to a large-scale figurative style by the end of 1962. His new work, a series of monumental, hyper-realist portraits in grisaille, marked Leslie’s reaction to the broadening mainstream acceptance of Abstract Expressionism.
In 1966, just before a planned retrospective at the Whitney Museum, a studio fire upended Leslie’s life and artistic practice by destroying everything from canvases to film footage for works in progress. In the aftermath, Leslie decided to focus on exclusively on painting. He did not complete another film until The Cedar Bar (2002), an exploration of the heated discussions between artists and critic Clement Greenberg that took place in the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. Also in 1996, poet Frank O’Hara, Leslie’s close friend and collaborator, died in a car accident. The loss inspired The Killing Cycle, a series of five major paintings in the manner of Caravaggio and hundreds of studies created between 1967 and 1981.
Leslie has since updated his craft for the digital age. His realistic painting style has been merged with modern technology to create fantastic hybrid views, which the artist calls pixel scores.
Fictional characters, complex and open to interpretation, populate these images. Authors as diverse as Théophile Gautier, Thomas Mann, Chester Himes, and James Fenimore Cooper wrote the characters which Leslie has animated in the pictures on view at the Jane Borden in New York.
Janet Borden, Inc. Website