I am an artist based in New York City and my focus is the rapidly changing urban landscape as seen through the construction sites of super-tall buildings. Observational painting and the use of strong color are the core of my process, and I work interchangeably in water-based media or oil paints on wood panel, canvas or paper. I often paint outside, capturing the progress at building sites across midtown Manhattan.
This project dates to 2015, when construction of a 40 story building began in front of my studio window on West 39th Street. My first impulse was to move. Instead, I decided to stay and make paintings of the process as the new building went up past my 13th floor workspace and blocked the view. I started calling it the Monolith. It had this slab-like quality, this immovability — and it began to represent other monolithic things in my life that couldn't be shifted.
Once the Monolith was finished, my new interest in construction took me outdoors, painting at a travel easel. I am now actively following numerous building projects that are dramatically changing the cityscape, such as Hudson Yards, Billionaire’s Row on West 57th Street, the new MoMA tower on 53rd Street, and One Vanderbilt rising next to Grand Central Station.
I work from the same vantage points multiple times over months and years. It is the in-between building stages that capture my imagination. It has been an incredible journey to chronicle these impossibly tall buildings as they rise from holes in the ground, surrounded and crowned by towering cranes. I stand at street level, dwarfed by massive forms, striving to capture the light and weather as they change endlessly across a mountainous architectural landscape where each time I come back the structures have changed!
Gwyneth Leech's first solo exhibition of construction paintings was held in 2016 at the head office of Sciame LLC, a building and engineering company in New York City. In 2018 she exhibited “Construction Series” in the Kaufman Arcade, a public art space in the Garment District, NYC, as well as showing selected paintings at the Pierro Gallery in South Orange, NJ and Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington, MA. In 2019, "Constructions Sites" was shown at the Clinton / Hell's Kitchen Studios Gallery on 52nd Street in Manhattan. Sixteen of her paintings were included in "Picturing Space", a group shows in the Art and Design Gallery at FIT, November 2019-January 2020. She is currently exhibiting in City Perspectives III, a group show at CRG Realty on 125th Street in Harlem, curated by Suzanne Randolph Fine Art, and in the UPS Art Project at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham NY and the Ely Center of Contemporary Art in New Haven CT. A solo exhibition of paintings depicting the rise of One Vanderbilt is now public in a Kunstmatrix virtual gallery at http://www.gwynethleech.com/one-vanderbilt-rising-exhibition.
Her construction site artwork has been featured on NY1 television news, in The Village Voice, on multiple art and real estate blogs and in international print media. It is the subject of a multi-award winning short documentary, The Monolith, from New York City director Angelo Guglielmo. View below. In November 2019, her construction paintings were featured on 1700 video kiosks across all five boroughs as part of Link NYC's "Art on Link" public art project.
Gwyneth Leech holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, and Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, UK. Her paintings have been exhibited across the United States and Great Britain in museum, commercial gallery, public art and alternative spaces. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a Hell's Kitchen Foundation Grant, several Scottish Arts Council awards, an Elizabeth Greenshields Memorial Award and a Thouron Fellowship, Leech's artwork resides in private and public collections. Recent corporate acquisitions include Brookfield, Cimolai, Despé Italia, Metropolitan Walters, NYC Constructors/Banker Steel, Sciame LLC, SL Green Realty and Stonebridge Inc.