Lisa Edelstein in the Studio
Photo by Holland Clement, courtesy of the artist
During the pandemic, Lisa Edelstein, the actor best known for her roles as Abby McCarthy in Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, Dr. Lisa Cuddy on the popular medical drama series House, and as Alan Arkin’s wayward adult daughter Phoebe on The Kominsky Method, took to painting. Seriously. Seriously and so well that her paintings are being exhibited at art consultant Lisa Schiff’s exhibition space, sfa Projects, at 45 White Street in New York’s Tribeca.
The paintings in the exhibition, Lisa Edelstein: Family, are inspired by old photos that Edelstein found of her family and relatives (and the occasional Poodle). They are candid shots – fugitive moments — often the mistaken shots that occurred in the days when there was no “delete” button on the camera. Her works is not photorealistic but does render by some strange alchemy the decaying colors and qualities of the old photos, as well as the feel of familial reminiscence, of time past. At the same time, they are painterly works as much about exploring the forms present, the patterns and textures in relation to each other. and the spaces in between them.
Beach Day by Lisa Edelstein
Courtesy of the artist
In some ways, Edelstein’s work reminds me of British painter Leon Kossoff and his painting Two Seated Figures No. 2. This may be because their subject matter is similar: Older Jewish relatives and friends – all looking nothing like their children, the forever-young Baby Boomers, who endeavor to be toned and stylish. There is a vividness and a familiarity in the work as if we’ve been transported to the past. They are like figures from a lost world, figures from the old world happy to be in the new, a generation of Jews flourishing in America. At a time when few painters claim their authentic personal history and roots, Edelstein has put hers on display.
At the same time, given that how recently Edelstein has taken to painting seriously, the work is evolving. Edelstein’s watercolors started as works made with magic marker, and then she began to use refill ink and sometimes a combination of the two. As the work got bigger, her husband the painter Robert Russell said, “Why don’t you use paint?” So, she began to use watercolor because it was most similar on paper. “Your leaving your negative space and building the color. As opposed to oil paint where you’re building it up to the negative.”
Dessert by Lisa Edelstein
Courtesy of the Artist
The determination with which Edelstein has pursued painting and the excellence of her results should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to Edelstein’s odds-defying artistic career. Like the heroine of a Victorian novel, she has consistently been the engine of her own success defying society and the world at large’s expectations. Yet, in person, Edelstein is very down-to-earth, thoughtful and mindful, equal parts funny and earnest, as I discovered when I sat down with her in her home studio on the East …….