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Student Spotlight: Ish Lipman

Photos from the painter’s studio.

By Photo Essay


Ish Lipman in his studio.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Gini Lee: Hi Ish, please briefly introduce yourself and your work.

Ish Lipman: My name is Ish, I was born in San Francisco and I grew up in Los Angeles. Both of my parents are artists and filmmakers, so I grew up in an artistic environment. I started out in photography and then eventually switched my focus over to painting.

GL: Do you feel like your photography experiences have influenced you as an artist?

IL: Definitely. Photography gave me the opportunity to study composition and taught me a certain amount of patience. It allowed me to investigate space that existed in an external world before I was able to explore a more inner reality through painting.

“Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.”

Ish Lipman talking about his painting.

GL: What are your influences on you and your work?

IL: I often look at early Renaissance paintings, specifically painters like Sasseta and Giotto. I also love the work of Flourine Stethimer, Matthew Wong, Gertrude Abercrombie. Most recently I have been looking at Albert Pinkham Ryder’s paintings. Outside of painting I admire Maya Derin and Michelangelo Antonioni. Most of the work I am drawn to often revolves around mystical/mysterious landscapes.

GL: What is your work about and what are the issues and concerns that influence your work?

IL: My paintings often aim to explore the feeling of being in a dream and passing through a landscape or environment that is vast. Most of the time my own dreams prevent me from exploring these landscapes but I often wake up with a sense of longing to explore the mystery of these landscapes. Painting allows me to sit with these experiences without the need to come to a specific conclusion. Although I am interested in the dream state I see the paintings as more of psychological landscapes that exist in between waking and sleeping.

Ish Lipman’s preliminary drawing for his piece Below The Tower in the exhibition Seasons Creep.

GL: What does your usual working process look like?

IL: I find that if I settle on a specific working method it eventually leads to a dead end. With that said, sometimes I will make a drawing that I translate to the canvas and sometimes I paint directly without a preconceived idea.

I often feel like painting is similar to asking questions that have no solid answers. Something happens over the repetition of the question that pushes the paintings forward and this is what continually draws me back to the canvas.

Ish Lipman (MFA 2022) is a student in the painting department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His MFA thesis show is happening from May 14-22 at 33 E. Washington Gallery. For more information, visit

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