Ali Silverstein’s process is guided by whatever feels necessary: cutting vertical strips in the canvas to create long tassels; sticking shapes of canvas onto her paintings, or, in other work, painting over these shapes and then removing them, leaving the residue of triangles and arcs. Massive sheets of canvas are painted, cut, dragged, pinned, stained, crawled over, glued, layered, and painted again. Silverstein’s preference for on-the-spot responsiveness rather than preconception, improvisational “allowing,” over planned composition, and primitive expression over slick industrial production, recall the philosophical spirit of abstract expressionism and action painting.

Her most recent works are titled with the date of their completion, emphasizing what the critic Harold Rosenberg said of abstract expressionism—that “what was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event”. The making of these works is not a process separate from life, but a “happening” of life itself.

From the stacked puddles of translucent color that transform into figures, to the hung fringes or collaged canvas shapes in more recent pieces, layering has always been at the core of Silverstein’s language.  Left to hang and move, the canvas (whose materiality is celebrated rather than hidden), breaks open the surface of the picture plane to create real, rather than illusionistic depth. Hints of landscape, layers of skin, and shapes of color collide in a play of concealment and revelation to create not mere landscape, but inner-scape, or culture-scape – where the inner meets the outer.

Ali silverstein is an artist currently living and working in los angeles, Ca.

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Photo By Tasya van Ree


Ali Silverstein’s work begins with observations of her surroundings which she documents, carves up, and rearranges in order to posit new possibilities, forms, and understandings.  Often using fragments of her own paintings that cover the floor of her studio, she operates like a mover of found objects, navigating an infinity of options. Massive sheets of canvas are painted, cut, dragged, pinned, stained, crawled over, glued, layered, and painted again.

Acts of displacement and transformation, residues of absence and removal, are documented in Silverstein’s paintings, installations, and films. She uses drawing and layering to make these new relationships visible, tracing kaleidescopic shifts of edge and boundary to illustrate the illusion of separateness, and of permanence. 

Forms, like understandings, are not permanent, and Silverstein’s creative process embraces the way that things break apart and come back together. Our bodies, our relationships, our expectations, even massive machines made of steel are all, eventually, dismembered.


Ali Silverstein lives in works in Los Angeles, CA.  She holds a BFA from Columbia University in Visual Art and Comparative Religion, and an MFA in Painting from The Slade School of Art in London. Her work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions internationally including an upcoming solo exhibition at MoCA Tucson, AZ (October 2019).  Her award-winning directorial documentary debut, Afterglow, premiered at the Reykjavik Film Festival, and she was a recipient of the New Mexico Filmmakers Intensive Grant.  Her work is held in a number of important public and private collections worldwide including the Aspen Art Collection, CO, USA; the Burger Collection, Hong Kong; the Rema Hort Mann Family Collection, NY, USA; and the Zabludowicz Collection, UK. 

link to CV