Her studio and work closed due to the pandemic, Leslie Hirshfield has taken to painting in her parents’ basement. That might sound nightmarish to some and comforting to others. For Hirshfield it offers a symbiosis of work and subject: her pre-COVID oils, drawings, watercolors and gouaches feature dreamily rendered scenes of childhood and family memory, often as not starring twin girls. (The artist has a twin sister with whom she collaborates on paper and metalwork collages.) That dreaminess goes both ways, sometimes sharp and realistic, other times loose and impressionistic. Two fully realized quarantine paintings keep to the former aesthetic and richly revisit people and places from the past: a home-built stage upon which the young sisters performed for captive audiences, a wall on which muralists portray close family members present and absent. Notable in both is Hirshfield’s use of the picture-in-a-picture: a child’s sweet drawing as theater backdrop, the fictional mural. This feels uncannily true to life today, turned inwards as it can’t help but be, funneled through evermore flat, rectangular planes.
—Lori Waxman 2020-09-25 10:31 AM