Artist's Statement | ISA LEVY

Painting is the vehicle which makes my language possible ! I am inspired by moments of joy, sadness, beauty or an
intangible yearning, a reaching need to express inner emotional feelings !

The process is my real joy ! The immediate sensuality of paint onto a blank white canvas excites me ! Spreading,
sculpting the paint, the smell, the colours and textures blending, seeping, bleeding into each other. Shapes appearing
with the rhythm of emotion! Then I follow the painting's development like a servant follows its mistress, breathing the
painting to life !

I can be inspired from within or an external inspiration and that being so my subject range is varied and unusual.
I am interested in creating a full and whole expression with each new canvas ! So each is a complete world in itself,
rarely part of a series, although in the passing of time I can see I can see how some paintings can be grouped
together !

Photo: Mark Walton

When a painting is complete I have a new conversation with it. When viewed I hold no real significance to its
interpretation , although I am interested in how the viewer sees, feels or  interprets the painting for themselves.
This is an important part of the completion process of each painting. The process is the real impact and the finished
painting I view almost detached ! Moments captured on canvas and lost into other moments!

My work is passionate, searching and exciting. The world of colour plays and dances with singing, ringing resonance's
and makes no apologies to a drab world. It is a celebration of life. I hope to uplift and excite the viewer or to expose
living in the question? The sense of search and seeking in each painting to find some momentary balance, which I
hope gives the paintings a sense of the universal and spiritual quest.


Photo: Mark Walton
Isa Levy lives in Highgate, London. The passionate and primal energy of her paintings has attracted collectors from the
USA, Finland, France, Italy and her native homeland, Wales.

Her sense of colour is vibrant, bold and inspired. Her flower paintings are rich with joy, exuberance and the atricality.
Her figure work is informed with a compassionate and raw vulnerability, a warmth of spirit.

Isa Levy is the niece of the late art critic and art writer, Mervyn Levy.

Studies : Recipient of an award for part-time studies at the Slade School of Fine Art

London Galleries :

  •  Llewellyn Alexander
  •  Chalk Farm Gallery
  •  Highgate Fine Art
  •  Islington Arts Factory
  •  Albany Gallery, Cardiff

Solo Exhibitions :

  •  Bromley Arts Centre
  •  Quaker Gallery, St.Martin's Lane, London
  •  Lauderdale House, London

International :

  •  Dallas, Paris, New York, Miami

Publications :

  •  Dallas, Paris, New York, Miami

Internet :

  •  Axis register of British Contemporary artists

Artists Residency :

  •  Wysing Arts Centre, Cambs.

The paintings of Isa Levy;
"Take off your shades and hear the sound of yellow"

I found myself one dark cold evening before Christmas visiting the Chocolate Factory in North London, a hive of studios
and small businesses. We are moving through the building, we turned a corner and there it was, a brass band playing
on the wall, a vase of flowers announcing itself as a shimmering chord." I'd like to wake up each day to that" I thought,
and now I do. I almost don't need an alarm clock. Each morning it shines having replenished its colours in the dark by
glowing to itself.

Back at the Chocolate Factory as Isa turned the mortise lock upon the corridor that led to the bunker of colour, I began
to feel very hungry, Clearly there was more colour, flowers, and leaves ahead.  There was, and movement too, breaking
like waves onto the canvasses, and into the world.

Emboldened by a cup of coffee in the studio itself, I thought I might be able to identify specific stylistic traits and some
thematic elements. With that kind of sense-making I would have missed the party. What took place was a moving
exhibition, Isa pulling out images, pulling out drawers, letting out some things mischievous, some mysterious, like
pages of a dream journal, but composed works, revisiting a marked journey. An early nude drawing; a Tuscan
landscape; "this is purple, it could go that way up, it's purple"; a Tunisian house and skyline; a patient swaddled by
stripes of paint applied with a rubber brush. Isa's commentary was about her relationship with these images, times
and places; "this was the first I did at the Slade; "this is what I'm experimenting with now, there is something making
its presence known in the background here ... the painting emerging from itself, a dog maybe?" I was reminded of
Elgar's comment about music, "it is all around in the air, you just take what you want". This was a life emerging in
pictures, in the telling of it Isa was being the artist, amazed and delighted in this flowering. Something molten is being
brought onto these surfaces, and it's cooling yet.

Some smaller studies brought out more autobiographical details, yes that is the Norwegian church that stands now at
the edge of the full flooded Cardiff Bay in my home town; "so you are Welsh!". Lord Tonypandy has probably replaced
Lloyd George as the man who knew our fathers, but Isa really did know the eminent Speaker; "and that book 'by there'
on the work of Lowry is by your Uncle, Mervyn Levy?"

There is a sense in Isa's work of the never ending process of becoming, catching, losing but hanging on to the image
of that place, and that time in light and colour, in flowers that have died, and have not.

A gift is exploding.

Isa has exhibited in Paris and New York. She said my painting had been to Dallas. I do believe it took itself there, and
came home behind that marching band.

Huw Richards

Inspired to Paint: Paintings to Inspire
by Isa Levy

My creativity had remained a mystery to me since I was a child, in the wake of a right and wrong way to approach art
in the classroom. This state of play had affected my confidence in a markedly detrimental way.  I firmly believed that my
quirky drawings were disasters rather than a young and meandering attempt at abstract art  without my knowing it !
In my attempts to fit into what seemed to be right, I developed an aversion to art. "I was hopeless"   .or so I thought.
So I relinquished my art homework to the family and clung on to my belief that art and I did not go well.

One day, in a friend's garden 40 years later I was intoxicated  by her sensual enthusiasm for the pleasure of blending
pastels and colour.  She, being French/Italian had no aversion to the concept of  pleasure, whereas I believed that
learning came with lashings of pain. (I never fitted into the educational system !) My efforts at  copying Matisse and
Picasso were distorted and off-centre but they seemed to have a quality about them that I rather liked !
They were to change my life. I had found something new within me .  Freedom ! From that source I seemed to flow
with a spontaneous explosion, as if the lion had been unleashed.  ..I was becoming a young "Grandma Moses."

I wanted to find my own way, and often the traditional art classes did not suit me .("lashings of pain" syndrome!! ).
My first attempts at life drawing created a personal torment .. I could not understand how I could create that beautiful
body on the table up there and make it appear on my piece of paper. My attempts were very much like those of Tony
Hancock's in his film 'The Artist'. Collapsed, miserable faces with mouths and noses colliding. Friends told me not to
give up the day-job...

I was not put off, And when I entered the gates of the 'Slade' as a part-time student , my life studies with "pork chop"
hands ended up on the same wall as the  architecturally correct drawings of my peers. The tutor told me to kiss my
way into the eyes of my first portrait and I surprised myself that I could paint tenderly and delicately The portrait was
to sell as have another 80 or so paintings.

I wanted to try oil paints but did not want to invest in a purchase  without knowing whether a) I liked using them and
b) whether they agreed with me (Oil, being expensive to use !)    I heard of a class where the tutor supplied a canvas,
brushes and oil paints. She set up a still-life and you just painted for the day. I came away with a finished painting...
I had no idea what I was doing, but I just kept doing it anyway.  People seemed to like and buy my paintings before
I even possessed the paints .   I was staggered and speechless !!??  It took much longer for my confidence to catch
up with the outpouring of paintings and opportunities.

Within a short time I was exhibiting in Paris and Dallas.

I knew nothing about art history and when I was told that my paintings resembled a Kokoschka, Schiele or Nolde I
ran to look them up in my " Dictionary of Artists."  I was familiar with Van Gogh and Matisse but that was about my

I was very excited by this new expression of my own paintings but I needed to to steep myself  in the luxurious
oeuvres of my masters (not so many mistresses !)

I travelled to Venice, New York, Sante Fe,  and Paris in 1998 relishing  all the paintings by twentieth century artists
that I could find.  They told me at the "Slade" to be compulsive about art!!!

My interest as a painter is versatile.  I enjoy painting still-life , landscape, figure, and abstract paintings and with
a collection of some 400 paintings or so it's sometimes very difficult to get into my studio at the Chocolate Factory,
in North London.

When people tell me they have all the art materials that money can buy but  just don't know how to get started I
think it's a crying shame. You can read all the books in the world, have all the technical know how that intellectual
avarice can afford and still be too scared to make that  first mark.

Just start and keep starting is my advice. Passion and enjoyment. Courage to make mistakes and make a mess.
Keep taking a small risk and see where it leads you. Learn from your attempt whether you deem it successful or not.
and keep going.

I have learnt that you can go into the chaos of creativity and  with a bit of luck and a lot of determination find a
"golden nugget"  ...

My paintings are to be seen AT

  •  On tour with the Scandinavian British Watercolour Roadshow , November, 2003/6
  •  The Chocolate Factory Open Studios, Clarendon Road, London, N22. November 19 - 21, 2004 | | |
Artist's Statement | Isa Levy CV | "Inspired to Paint" Article | Chocolate Factory Review
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