Harlem: Manhattan’s Newest Art Zone
June 5, 2019
Jean Lawlor Cohen
A must-see art show in a just-opened gallery north of Central Park
Attention pilgrims of the ever-changing Manhattan art map! You’ve got more reason to turn eyes north, thanks to gallerists relocating from SoHo, Chelsea and points as far away as Santa Fe. The New York Times advises tracking both sides of Harlem—on the west, for example, MBnB project space and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, and on the east, David Richard Gallery and the nonprofit White Box. New arrivals are joining a scene already set by the respected Studio Museum and dozens of independent galleries tucked in the neighborhood’s brownstones.
Not to miss: “Polychrome Polygons,” nine large, high-impact paintings by Mokha Laget at the newly arrived David Richard Gallery. In her first New York solo exhibition, Laget presents her signature shaped canvases in colors so radiant, one critic says, they “should be assigned an atomic number.” For all their heraldic, retinal power, however, the works are meant to reveal themselves over time. So pause, and be surprised as the geometric elements intersect to create internal tensions and advance from flatness into 3D illusion.
Laget offers ways to enter all of this pure abstraction. Sometimes she suggests seeing stripes, wedges and triangles as syncopated jazz chords and colors as lyrics. And she admits to being inspired as well by the mosaics of Morocco, the atmosphere and mountains of the American Southwest where she works “off the grid,” and the places she has lived and visited as an international translator. Yet now, more than ever, her forms relate to architecture, its shifting planes, scale and reflectivity. She finds that her childhood memories—the mud villages of North Africa that alternated with Parisian skylines, their shadows and mirages—have resurfaced in these paintings of sensuous ambiguity.
The show (through July 13) opens with an artist reception June 12, 5 to 8 pm.
David Richard Gallery, 211 E. 121st St., 2nd fl., 212.882.1705, www.davidrichardgallery.com