Leila Pinto: A Journey From Wall Street To The Canvas

Leila Pinto with artwork “Kaleidoscope” at Southampton African American Museum Benefit Party in 2022. Photo by Sean Zanni/PMC

Artist Leila Pinto shares with James Lane Post her journey from Wall Street to the canvas and her embrace of NFTs and digital art. She will display thirty pieces at this week’s Hamptons Fine Art Fair.

Could you tell us about your background as an artist?

As a NYC and Hamptons-based artist, I’ve spent time on the East End for over two decades. While working on Wall Street as a Managing Director for a major firm, I always harbored a passion for art and enjoyed visiting museums and galleries. However, it was the financial crisis of 2008 that prompted me to pick up a paintbrush and explore my creative side.

I delved into the fundamentals of drawing and painting, seeking instruction from various New York institutes. Traditional representational styles, color theory and plein-air landscapes laid the groundwork for my artistic expression. Inspired by luminaries like Rothko, Frankenthaler, and Willem de Kooning, I ventured into abstraction. 

Wall Street Collection

My art has been informed by my experiences and the events of our world. My first abstract collection was my Wall Street Series, inspired by my work in the financial sector.  These paintings were a visceral response to events that dominated the headlines, like Brexit. By exploring those events through the lens of a painter, I try to make sense of that moment in time to create narratives and meaning. 

Leila Pinto’s art on the monolith at Scope Art Fair in Miami. 

Ocean and Sustainability Inspired Collection

My art has always been a reflection of my experiences and the pressing issues of our time. The oceans, with their breathtaking beauty and the ever-changing light on the East End, have been a profound source of inspiration for me. The Climate Change Series emerged as my response to global warming — an urgent call to safeguard our planet and oceans for future generations. Through my ocean abstract paintings, I aim to evoke visceral and cerebral reactions, drawing attention to critical environmental concerns.

I am honored to have some of my ocean-inspired abstracts to be displayed during global climate summits in Dubai and Paris, as well as on a monumental 24-foot-tall monolith at the entrance to Scope Art Fair during Art Basel in Miami. 

From Realism to Abstraction: A Fusion of Heritage and Vision

My artistic evolution spans realism to abstraction, tradition to innovation. Vibrant colors and dynamic brushstrokes infuse my compositions, capturing the energy and diversity of my subjects. Drawing from my Indian heritage, I create compositions that are a fusion of my professional experience, and personal vision — bringing a fresh and authentic voice to the canvas that resonates with diverse audiences.

Embracing the Digital Realm: NFTs, Blockchain, and Public Art

When the pandemic disrupted in-person art events, I embraced digital art and the metaverse. Learning about NFTs and cryptocurrency, I put my art on the Blockchain and created a virtual gallery. Incorporating AI allowed me to reimagine iconic New York landmarks as public art installations.

So, I guess you can say that my background is eclectic and continually evolving.  

Social media became my ally in sharing my work with a wider audience. As an artist committed to positive impact, I’ve been honored to speak on art and entrepreneurship at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Being recognized as one of the top 5 digital artists to watch and having my abstract paintings featured in American Art Collector magazine have been incredible milestones. I was recently interviewed by Randi Zuckerberg, the wonderful talented sister of Mark Zuckerberg, about my journey from Wall Street to Fine Art and Web3.

A Grateful Journey: Curiosity, Teachers, and Joy

Curiosity continues to fuel my artistic path. I express gratitude to the teachers, gallerists, collectors, and fellow artists who have shaped my journey. Making art is a soulful process—one that brings me immense joy. Through sharing my creations, I hope to inspire others and contribute to a more vibrant arts landscape.

Leila Pinto’s Times Square Jumbotron

Your work has been widely exhibited in the Hamptons and beyond. Can you share your personal take on those standout moments in your artistic journey?

Times Square Jumbotron: I was honored to see my artwork displayed on the Morgan Stanley headquarters in Times Square, for my efforts to give back through my art.

Oculus World Trade Center: During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was curated into a group show at the Oculus World Trade Center. The show aimed to encourage people to return to the transit system, which had been adversely affected.

I am fortunate to have my work displayed in group shows at Hudson Yards, during NFT LA and SXSW (South by Southwest), and in Monte Carlo during the global metaverse summit.

Exhibiting some of my ocean abstracts at the COP-28 global climate summit in Dubai was an honor. Through my art, I raise awareness about our planet’s fragility and the urgent need for preservation.

But the standout moment was seeing my work displayed on a 24-Foot-Tall Monolith at the entrance to Scope Art Fair during Art Basel Miami 2022. Seeing my ocean-themed painting, animated and set to music, displayed on a colossal swirling glass monolith with the ocean as a backdrop, was mesmerizing and humbling.

Where can we find your artwork on display this summer?

I’ll be exhibiting around thirty pieces at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair, from July 11 to 14. You can find my work in Booth 202. This marks my second year participating in this prestigious event, which brings together collectors, fellow artists, and art enthusiasts. The fair promises a vibrant atmosphere, connecting art lovers from the Hamptons and beyond.

Additionally, stay tuned for exciting news about another exhibition in August, hosted at a new venue in Water Mill. I’ll share more details soon!

For more of my artwork, visit my website at leilapinto.com, connect with me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Instagram (@LeilaPintoNYC). Thank you for your support!

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