States Of Being

Leslie Wayne: The Universe is on the Inside

May 20 – Jul 07, 2021

Works (Tap to zoom)

Press Release

Leslie Wayne
The Universe is on the Inside 
May 20 – July 7, 2021
524 W 24th Street, New York, NY

I’ve been gazing out the window a lot this past year, reflecting on the collision of events in this moment…Sometimes it feels like all I can muster, just gazing out the window. And yet it feels like precisely the right thing to do, to take a moment to reflect, looking inward as I gaze outside… 

Leslie Wayne, 2021  

Jack Shainman Gallery is proud to present The Universe is on the Inside, an exhibition of new work by Leslie Wayne. This series explores the powerful relationship between ourselves and the objects that support and sustain us in our daily lives during a year of complex, unavoidable isolation and ambiguity. At the core of the work is Wayne’s interest in exploring how we imbue these everyday objects, once inanimate and inert, with subjective meaning and purpose. This poignant and introspective presentation underscores Wayne’s personal and deeply intimate perspective on the creative process. 

Grounded in play between trompe l’oeil and verisimilitude, her pieces hover between abstraction and representation as the shape of each painting takes on the contours of the objects they represent. From utilitarian worktables and loft windows in disrepair to personal medicine cabinets and cracked mirrors, each object stands witness to and reflects on the artist’s intimate, daily life and state of mind. 

Go Ask Alice takes the form of a partially opened cabinet and brings to the fore the artist’s striking ability to challenge our perceptions of form in space through an idiosyncratic distortion of perspective. As the artist suggests, “while our eagerness to participate in this suspension of disbelief is duly challenged by the painting’s irrefutable materiality, the seduction of verisimilitude keeps that disbelief suspended. This hovering between the two is for me the fascinating part of perception, where the brain, and the mind as a realm of the senses, pushes and pulls our faith in what we see and what we choose to believe.” 

Loft presents a picture of Wayne’s crumbling old studio window. Like many of her pieces that serve as portals —windows, doors, cupboards— the viewer is positioned inside of the space, looking to an outside world that is muddled and unidentifiable, suggesting a place that is visually, metaphorically, and physically unattainable, yet still anticipated and tangible. Other windows in the exhibition confuse our reading of the viewer’s position, offering the perspective of looking in from the outside, but with the internal view being the night sky filled with stars or the crepuscular sky with passing clouds, rather than an architectural interior space. 

Created during what Wayne calls the “seemingly never-ending pandemic,” The Universe is on the Inside offers unexpected form to the redefining, collective experience of transformation, anxiety and ultimately hope. With the weight of uncertainty dominating the days and months of this past year, Wayne reflects on the instability of our current socio-political moment and the all too ubiquitous and undeniable divisions systemically rooted in our day-to-day experience. 

Leslie Wayne lives and works in New York City and has been showing at the gallery since 1993. Her influences are rooted in the West Coast landscape of her youth and, along with California’s Light & Space and Craft movements as inspiration, she has cultivated a unique sensibility with her material and with the contemporary practice of painting. In recent years she has continued to push the boundaries of composition, texture, color, and scale in her practice, further developing and challenging the relationship between abstraction and representation. 

Concurrently on view is a group show featuring Lyne Lapointe, Hayv Kahraman, Nick Cave and Carlos Vega at our 20th Street space. Upcoming exhibitions include Feedback, a group show at The School | Jack Shainman Gallery in Kinderhook, NY, opening June 5th, 2021. 

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. The School hours will be Saturdays from 11am to 6pm. For press inquiries please contact Kate Morais, SUTTON,, +1 212 202 3402. For all other inquiries please contact the gallery at