For over fifty years, Ilene Spiewak has focused on the relations between color and visual space, painting
at the edge of representation and abstraction. The introspection and solitude brought by the pandemic made her compositions more sparse and her palette more restrained. “I realized what I had in my studio was myself always. . . . I began to insert myself in my paintings more than I was conscious of in the past.”
In this self-portrait, Spiewak outlines her silhouette in charcoal. Her face and nude torso are rendered in soft shades of white, pink, and gray that push against the yellow background. With frankness, she paints her aging body, countering centuries of idealized, youthful, slender female nudes in art. By placing her figure off-center on the picture plane, with her right arm extended but truncated, Spiewak subtly allows us into the intimate act of observing and painting herself.