Discomfort Food

Aubrey Levinthal’s Powerfully Depressing Solo Show

Eve Bigaj
11 min readMay 30, 2019


I Four Paintings

The neon sign on the window says “open.” An empty seat waits for her inside. And still she dithers behind the glass, searching the menu for answers.

43rd Street Pho Cafe (2019)

He lets the steam from his coffee stroke his chin. He’s so tired. He slouches, lets his arm droop onto the suitcase. The clock ticks away the minutes until his departure. In his mind, he’s already gone.

They may share a painting, but there is glass between them. The sign says “open” but it’s turned off. The seat is empty but it’s turned away from him.

Only the plants face towards each other — and even they don’t touch.

Depression is a glass pane between you and the world. Sometimes, it distorts the other side. Flowers droop prematurely, or become childish scrawls, the label “beautiful” instead of the real thing. Often, the glass gives you back your own sad face, obscuring everything else. But for the most part, it just locks you out. Nothing is different — except that you can’t get inside.

In her latest body of work, Aubrey Levinthal paints just this glass pane.

Breakfast at 13th St. (2018)

No one is eating the pancakes.

The mother huddles inside a cloud of nauseating despair. The baby may not be two yet, but he already feels the full weight of things. He keeps a careful eye on us from within his elephant pajamas.

The father is the saddest of all. He meets my gaze as directly as Victorine Meurent in Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass.” I am, somehow, complicit. He knows that I know something. His uncompromising sadness shocks me as much as Victorine Meurent’s nudity. Perhaps it is a form of nudity.



Eve Bigaj

Visual artist following curiosity wherever it leads. I have a Harvard PhD in philosophy. Learn colorful painting with me: evebigaj.com