Garvey | Simon – Gwyneth Leech: Liminal New York

by | Jun 20, 2022 | Blog post

Garvey|Simon is pleased to present Gwyneth Leech: Liminal New York at Foley Gallery, 59 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Liminal New York features a selection of paintings from Gwyneth Leech, chronicling the evolution of New York City’s skyline. Equal parts documentarian and poet, Leech’s paintings center on internal frameworks, scaffolding and other temporarily visible structures; architectures that only exist as other architectures takes shape. Liminal New York observes these gestations from foundation to finish, capturing the transient adolescence of Manhattan’s future giants. Liminal New York will be on view through June 26th.

Gwyneth Leech tracks the progress of Manhattan construction with the sensitivity of an Impressionist painter. Initially struck by a skyscraper emerging outside her studio window, Leech became captivated by the choreography of construction and sense of temporality contained within the project. She often paints from the same vantage point multiple times, or conversely, the same subject from multiple street corners, tracking not only the pace of the urban development, but the more subtle, atmospheric indicators of the passage of time, as well. When viewed as a complete series, Leech’s paintings delineate two individual timelines – that of the building’s progress, and that of Manhattan’s progress. When viewed through Leech’s diligent attention, both chronologies are shown to ebb and wane, speeding up and slowing down at irregular intervals. Gwyneth Leech offers up a contemporary iteration of Monet’s cathedrals and haystacks, pointing to a modernity in which there is a fleeting sense of permanence.

Leech does not only give primacy to the skyscrapers, broadening her scope to celebrate the inner structures as well as the cranes, scaffolding, and temporary machinery that raise them. Complex grids of rising steel columns and beams make up the skeletons of fledgling skyscrapers. Scaffolding and netting cast a labyrinthine pattern over the emerging sleek and imposing edifices. Despite their immensity, the internal supports and auxiliary architectures carry a sense of ephemerality. Their visibility is only temporary – they will be concealed or disappear as suddenly as they have arrived. Leech’s interest in temporary structures shifted during the early days of the pandemic, moving from tall, aerial structures to encampments of displaced peoples forming in the shadows of halted projects. Leech’s parallel “skylines” emphasize the fragility of these shelters, shifting her vision of the city from epic to imposing.

For more information on the gallery and artist please visit

Hudson Yards Rising with Encampment, View from West 29th Street, 2021, oil on canvas, 36 x 44 in.