The Art World Works From Home: Painter Doron Langberg Has Turned His Dining Table Into a Studio and Is Eating a Lot of Baba Ganoush

The art world may be working remotely, but it certainly does not stop. We're checking in with art-world professionals to see how they work from home.

Artist Doron Langberg. Photo by Gregory Gentert.

The art world may be on lockdown, but it certainly does not stop. During this unprecedented time, we’re checking in with art-world professionals, collectors, and artists to get a glimpse into how they are working from home.

We recently caught up with the painter Doron Langberg, whose solo show at Yossi Milo gallery last year, “Likeness,” was a highlight of the fall exhibition calendar. Born in Israel and now based in Manhattan, Doron creates sensuous canvases that delight in painterly touch and explode with color. Often featuring multiple figures, his paintings are deeply intimate and a celebration of queer sexuality—and have made him one of the most talked-about young painters in New York. You may have seen his work on display at New York’s Armory Show, and he’s currently working toward a solo show at M+B gallery in Los Angeles this fall.

Read on to learn about everything from his current home studio to his mouthwatering recipe for baba ganoush.

The artist’s home studio. Courtesy of Doron Langberg.

Where’s your new “office”?

My husband and I live in a one bedroom, so he’s on one side of our dining-slash-living area and I’m on the other. Half of our dining table is my drawing studio and the corner where we keep our kitchen appliances is my painting studio, which I just set up today.

How has your work changed now that you are doing it from home?

I usually work from observation, where a friend would come to the studio or I would go to their place and make a small painting, which I then use as source material for my larger works. Since social distancing is not ideal for painting from life, I started making small drawings from older photographic source material I had. Actually, this was my process over 10 years ago when I started working with sexual subject matter. It’s been amazing to connect again with the “core” of my practice and I already have a few ideas for larger works based on these drawings. I even snuck out to studio the other day and started one!

What are you reading, both online and off?

One thing I’m not reading is the news. I feel so inundated with information right now, in order to not go crazy and concentrate on my work, I have to shut a lot of it out. Off my computer and phone, I’m reading See Under-Love by Israeli author David Grossman. I’m only a third of the way in, but right now he’s writing about Bruno Schulz—a Jewish artist and writer who was killed by the Nazis—who happened to be from the same town in Poland as my dad!

The artist’s home studio. Courtesy of Doron Langberg.

Have you taken up any new hobbies?

Does Zooming count? I’m in the process of organizing an art auction to benefit Food Bank for NYC, which has me glued to my computer much more than usual.

What is the first place you want to travel to once this is over?

MY STUDIO! I’m having serious studio withdrawal. Very jealous of all the artists that have home studio set-ups right now who can continue working as usual.

If you are feeling stuck while self-isolating, what’s your best method for getting un-stuck?

I’m pretty much a homebody as it is, so I rarely feel “stuck” at home. But I have been pretty anxious these days about what the art world will be like on the other end of this, and for my husband who is a doctor. To keep all these thoughts in check, I’ve been going on jogs which help clear my head and calm me down.

“Likeness” installation view. Courtesy of Yossi Milo.

What was the last TV show, movie, or YouTube video you watched?

I’ve been watching The Crown, which is perfectly boring. I love mindless, silly shows that help me fall asleep. I recently gave up on Gossip Girl because the drama between Serena and Blair was just too much for me. 

If you could have one famous work of art with you, what would it be?

Wow, just one?! I’d love a wartime Morandi flower still life right now—a symbol of isolation and introspection during dire circumstances. Although there are suggestions he was a Fascist sympathizer—Mussolini even owned one of this pieces, I think!

What are you most looking forward to doing once social distancing has been lifted?

Hugging my friends!

Doron Langberg, Kyle, Robert, and James (2019). Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery.

Have you visited any good virtual exhibitions recently?

I haven’t. I feel like Instagram fulfills this aspect of my art-viewing needs. But I’m thrilled artists and galleries are finding ways to get work out there and make some money during this crisis.

Favorite recipe to cook at home? 

So there’s no recipe per-se, but if we know each other you’ve probably had my baba ganoush.

  • 1 of the most beautiful, firm eggplants you can find (make sure it feels like a light, dry sponge and not soggy or soft)
  • 2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini (make it good—I schlepped mine from Israel—it’s worth it!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A LOT of olive oil
  • 1–2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Poke holes all around your eggplant and place it directly(!!) on the flame of your burner. Yes—it will make a mess. At this point turn off your fire alarm and open a window.

2. Let it burn for about 15 minutes on each side until it’s completely charred on the outside and soft on the inside all around.

3. On a cutting board, slice the eggplant open and let it steam off until it’s cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh with your fingers and remove the bits of chard skin (it’s fine if a little bit is left).

4. Transfer the flesh of the eggplant to a bowl and mix in your garlic cloves, tahini, lemon, A LOT of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and your final secret ingredient, pomegranate molasses!

Baba ganoush platter. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Image.

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