“The paintings are a celebratory valuing of life. They are symbolic of the wonder inherent in the art of creation and building, alluding to the potential for the advancement of civilization. The paintings celebrate the impulse toward reason, innovation, creation, and liberty.” - Leah Montalto
In her large-scale paintings, Leah Montalto explores the visible and the invisible, the physical and the metaphysical, envisioning an expansion in both material and inner dimensions. With a masterful deployment of color, and a dynamic sense of motion, her paintings defy convention by simultaneously revealing two paradoxical perspectives.
From one perspective, Montalto’s paintings are classical landscapes, inspired by the tradition of the Hudson River Landscape School. Montalto creates futurist landscapes, taking the viewer on a three-dimensional journey through outer space, and through imagined nanotech creation scenes in scales both massive and miniature. Structures break apart, coalesce, and reform as she evokes the spirit of creation, transformation, and reconstruction.
From a second perspective, Montalto’s paintings are two-dimensional abstract paintings, evoking the physiological effect of gazing at a Tibetan mandala, offering an entry to an internal space of reflection, contemplation, and illumination.
With these paradoxical yet simultaneous perspectives - alternating between three-dimensional space and internal vision, Montalto’s paintings evoke an exhilarating sense of the potential of new worlds and new ways of thinking. Montalto’s paintings present an optimistic view of the future, of transformational possibilities, and of a merging of the material environment and the psyche, and of nature and technology.
Leah Montalto was born in Boston, MA in 1979. She lives and works in New York City and Queens, NY. Montalto holds an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. She is the recipientof numerous awards including the National Academy Museum of Fine Art’s Hallgarten Prize for Excellence Painting, and a New York City Cultural Commission Individual Artist Grant. Exhibitions of her work include shows at the National Academy Museum of Fine Art in New York City, Priska Juschka Fine Art Gallery in New York City, Reis Experimental Gallery in Queens, University of Michigan Gallery in Ann Arbor, and the Korea Biennial. Montalto has taught painting at Sarah Lawrence College, State University of New York at Purchase, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Connecticut, and Rhode Island School of Design.
2015 Queens Arts Fund Awardee