Born in Minsk, Belarus, Tanya Levina moved to New York City in 1995. Levina studied painting at the Art Students League, Slade School of Fine Arts in London and the New York Academy of Art. Tanya Levina is a recipient of a COJECO BluePrint Fellowship award and has been featured in numerous exhibitions at venues, including Trask Gallery at the National Arts Club, NYC; Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center in Solomons, MD; and MoRA (Museum of Russian Art) in Jersey City, NJ. Her work can be found in private collections in London, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston.
My subjects are rooted in aspects of my experiences or fantasies derived from them. When I was 11, my family moved to Brooklyn, New York, from Minsk, Belarus. As an immigrant, a refugee from the former USSR, I am fascinated by the Jewish immigrant community in Brooklyn hailing from former Soviet Union countries, and the absurdities and contradictions that abound in it. I paint the everyday moments which encapsulate that sometimes insular diaspora experience, where poverty and extravagance are inexplicably coupled, and where old-world values are constantly clashing with modern American culture. My series offers a small window into this world, from the eyes of an American who nevertheless has an intimate understanding of her subjects’ habits and prejudices. Many of my portraits depict myself, family members or friends, often placed in exaggerated, surreal and colorful settings. Though I remain loyal to their physical features, I do not paint my subjects strictly “as they are,” which gives me agency to re-evaluate both my perspective towards them, and theirs towards themselves. The results are potentially humorous, ironic or even haunting and disturbing.