Artist Leslie Wayne on Sculpting Paint and Repairing What Is Broken

Artist Leslie Wayne molds and manipulates oil paint to create surfaces that blur the confines of painting and sculpture. Wayne found “an approach to [paint] that was very dimensional,” as she told Brooke Jaffe in a recent interview for “ARTnews Live,” our ongoing IGTV series featuring interviews with a range of creatives.

Wayne, the daughter of a concert pianist and a writer, began painting lessons at the age of 7 and lived in what she describes as a very open and “encouraging” household. Dissatisfied with the body of abstract geometric paintings featured in her first show—she says they felt formally rigorous but “hollow”—Wayne soon began integrating sculptural techniques into her paintings, which she says “helped me kind of build a vocabulary that was fresh and new to me.”

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It was then that Wayne realized “paint could be used like you would use any other material to build a work of art.” Her advice to aspiring artists is to “be courageous in the studio.”

Wayne said her latest body of work, currently on view at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, was born from reflection. “I was looking inward as I gaze outside,” she wrote, referring to time spent indoors during the pandemic. Her paintings depict objects that she has been surrounded by in her studio, including work tables and rolling carts as well as stacks of marble that her husband, sculptor Don Porcaro, uses in his work.

“I think that we invest objects with meaning because they reflect our lives [and] the passing of time,” Wayne said. “They’re packed with memories, and so, they have meaning.” Paintings of broken windows take up one room at Jack Shainman Gallery and suggest a need for repair. Additionally, two self-portraits painted from mirror selfies suggest a more literal self-reflection.

Wayne’s solo exhibition “The Universe Is on the Inside,” featured as one of Art in America’s must-see shows this season, is currently on view at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, extended through July 2.


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