Leah Pantéa’s paintings represent a deliberate and ceaseless game of hide-and-seek. Delicate details fight through a veil, glimmers of an under-painting peek through. With smooth fields of white covering most of Pantéa’s paintings, there is not a lot immediately viewable. The paintings are documents of the chase, each one showing the flash of understanding that the universe graces us with, before it dips back out of sight. Alan Watts expands upon the chase in the audio archives “Out of Your Mind,” by laughing, “[m]ake the telescope bigger and bigger and bigger and the universe expands because it’s running away from itself. It won’t do that if you don’t chase it!” Each flash is brief, an incomplete picture, a tease, which makes it impossible to stop looking for more.
Each stroke of white on the under-painting is added with the intention of eliminating information. This topical technique was inspired by Albert Rothenberg’s philosophy of janusism, the process of imagining two opposing principals birthed out of the same moment. The end result is minimal looking, but maximalist driven painting, pulling influence from abstract expressionist artists and masters of layer: Julie Mehretu and Nava Waxman.
The universe running from Pantéa pulls her forward, driven by the pursuit of what we can sense, but not see. But through all of this hunting, perhaps the inquiry is inward and useless, just as Alan Watt’s describes, “[i]t is like searching for our own heads, which we can’t see, in which you might conceivably imagine that you’ve lost. So that indeed is the point! … We are in search of the self. But that’s the one thing we can’t find because we have it and we are it!”