From the Archive: Folk Fantasy: The Paintings of Levent Isik

The_Flood_Detail The Flood, Detail © Levent Isik

Ever the prankster, Levent Isik (1961 – 2019) was equal parts naif, sophisticate, humorist, and deep thinker. You just had to know him to see how these seemingly contradictory traits could occupy one person.

A Turkish native of Canada, his work was somehow a unique embodiment of the American Folk tradition. This is for you Chief – you’re dearly missed.

Levent Isik is a self-taught folk artist living in Columbus, Ohio, where he began painting in 1989, having been inspired by Elijah Pierce and William Hawkins. His work has also been influenced by Gregory Womack (Mr. Imagination) and by the paintings created by Vincent Van Gogh and Morris Hirshfield.

Adam and Eve, © Levent Isik
Appalacian Angel, © Levent Isik

The colorful, highly patterned, and romantic images in Isik’s paintings derive from his subconscious. The subjects include cityscapes, superwoman, and animals. Some of his creations are reliefs with raised shapes, either cut from scrap metals or built from water putty that he has attached to the painting surface.

Halloween, © Levent Isik
Old Yeller, © Levent Isik
Six Beauty Boxes, © Levent Isik

He almost always uses found objects, and uses house paints, which he then covers with polyurethane to get a high gloss finish. His frames are all hand painted with a repeated zigzag pattern.

The Artist and his Muse, © Levent Isik
The Bunny Show, © Levent Isik
The Cardinal, © Levent Isik

His works have been shown in many galleries in the US, as well as important institutions. He’s also been included in folk art books, and number of publications on Folk art.

The Cheshire Cat, © Levent Isik
The Flood, © Levent Isik
The Hollow, © Levent Isik
The Mummy, © Levent Isik
The Patient, © Levent Isik

You can see more of Levent Isik’s work at his Facebook page here.

Leslie Constable from the Columbus Dispatch wrote:

“His visual lexicon adds up to a playful, warmly humanistic vision filled with homey wisdom and more than a dash of bawdy humor.”