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CIRCLING LEV: The Art and Life of K. Levni Sinanoglu
through the lens of friends, colleagues, students, mentors and collectors

April 15–May 24, 2018
Reception: Saturday, April 21, 4–7 pm

Levni Sinanoglu…created a world and lived in it. The rest of us visited.” stated David Pease, Yale Professor Emeritus of Painting

The Ely Center of Contemporary Art will showcase the artwork of Levni Sinanoglu (Yale MFA 96) alongside works by his friends, colleagues, students and mentors. The exhibition will include numerous works by the artist presented in dialogue with paintings, drawings and video works by William Bailey, Gideon Bok, Turner Brooks, Paul Clabby, Denzil Hurley, Clint Jukkala, Joshua Marsh, David Pease, Katy Schneider, Gina Ruggeri, Joel Werring, and Pawel Wojtasik. 

Levni was an influential artist, teacher and community member who had an enormous impact through his own work and his generosity as a mentor and collaborator. A New Haven native, Sinanoglu was and is a significant figure in the New Haven and Yale art communities. In addition to maintaining a thriving artistic practice of his own, Sinangolu, curated exhibitions, wrote essays and press releases for other artists, and worked at the John Slade Ely House Galleries now Ely Center of Contemporary Art where the exhibition will take place. A true collaborative spirit, he maintained an ongoing critical dialogue with countless artists, providing vital feedback and support. Sinanoglu was an important teacher to many and taught studio art and art history at Hampshire College, Gateway Community College, Quinnipiac University, and the Yale School of Art, where he taught a summer drawing class in 2006.

Circling Lev presents work that spans time from Sinanoglu’s days as a student at Hampshire and Yale, up until 2016, the year Sinanoglu passed away. Throughout his career, Sinanoglu made paintings that offer a distinctive and visionary space. Both of the physical world and a spiritual realm, Sinanoglu’s paintings conjure a timeless place for thought, meditation and imagination.

The exhibition highlights Sinanoglu’s approach to art making as that of a spiritual traveler, and explores important themes that reoccurred in his work throughout his life. These include his use of imagery such as ancient temples and symbols, inspired by his travels through the Middle East; artistic influences including Philip Guston, Paul Klee, Metaphysical painting and Persian miniatures; and painting as a thought practice, manifest in Sinanoglu’s “thinking table,” a table of objects, akin to a rock garden, that Sinanoglu would continually curate and keep in his studio for inspiration. These symbolic relics will be on view re-contextualized as studio space within the exhibition.

Close friend and Yale classmate Clint Jukkala put it best: “Part of Sinanoglu’s gift as an artist and teacher was his uncanny ability to make connections between art, literature, philosophy, religion and everyday life. In a single conversation, he could deftly travel through space, time and belief systems, illuminating new relationships and insights. Through pictorial means, Sinanoglu’s paintings have this same ability to illuminate, connect and reveal. His visionary worlds offer an experiential space for viewers to travel and explore.