Sarah Letovsky’s solo exhibition, GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS, brings together an assembly of women, each distinct, separate, and detached. Are they strippers, Mötley Crüe groupies, single moms or curatorial graduate students? Are they on display for looking at, or are they looking at us? We spoke with the painter this week to find out.

SDTC: Can you walk us through your artistic process? 

Each painting is honestly so different, some of them just come together so quickly and spontaneously and others seem to take forever. So my process is constantly changing and evolving. Usually they begin with an abstract idea of a gesture, pose, or pattern that I stumble upon. I will usually spend a lot of time mixing colours, drawing, or practicing a technique, so that when I apply a brushstroke, it’s bold, confident, and deliberate. I fell in love with this incredible iPhone painting app, and I spend hours making these awesome little digital studies playing around with composition and colour and planning out my steps.

What can we expect to see in your exhibition?

A little army of women. I’ve been alone with them for a while so I’m excited to share them with other people! I think that painting is at once a private thing but also performative, and each of these paintings feel a bit like that. Private and inward, but also exhibitionist. Engaging with the viewer, and pulling back. It’s important for me to make work that I relate to, so this show is a chance for me to play with these ideas and tell a visual story.

Salome - Sarah Letovsky

Salome – Sarah Letovsky

What is it about portraiture that you’re drawn to?

What I connect most to is other people and relationships. If a portrait is successful, there’s something living there, and being able to capture that on a flat surface feels incredible. But I’m more fascinated by the inanimate aspect of it and the quality of paint. For me, the portrait is less about the subject and more about a central starting point for playing with the materiality of the substance, how it moves and what it can do, and finding these amazing visual moments that you can make with the paint itself.

What was the most valuable thing you learned in art school?

Colour theory was probably the most important and useful thing I learned at OCAD. But I also had some great professors that introduced me to a huge cross-section of contemporary artists. Beyond formal training, the process of contextualizing yourself and looking around and seeing what your peers are making – what professional artists in your community and in the wider community are making – is hugely important. I started building relationships and making connections with other artists, which has been vital for me. Making art can be an insular experience, so getting to know other people in the field – artists, curators, arts writers and administrators – is crucial for building a supportive community.

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS runs at Project Gallery (1109 Queen E) from September 8 to 25. Opening reception is September 8 from 6 to 9 pm.