I am an American artist living and working in New York City. My focus is the visual drama of construction sites in Midtown Manhattan, where I am recording the incremental yet rapid building process as the city undergoes major physical and demographic changes. Observational painting and the use of strong color are the heart of my approach, 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 the city.
My fascination with construction sites as subject matter dates to 2015, when a 40 story building began to go up in front of my studio window on West 39th Street. I was losing a view I loved, but decided to give this unwelcome change my full attention and made scores of drawings and paintings as the new building rose 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 have dramatically changed the cityscape, such as Hudson Yards, the multiple towers of Billionaire’s Row on West 57th Street, One Vanderbilt next to Grand Central Station and 270 Park now rising on Park Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets.
I work from the same vantage points multiple times over months and years. It is the in-between construction 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 artwork has been exhibited across the United States and Great Britain in galleries including Zürcher Gallery, Foley Gallery, Susan Teller Gallery and the Flatiron Prow Artspace in NYC, Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington MA and in museums including the Pearl Fincher Museum of Art in Houston, TX, the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa. AZ and the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum in Scotland. She has been featured in the New York Times, the Village Voice, international print media and on NY1 News. She is the subject of a multi-award winning short documentary, The Monolith, by New York filmmaker, Angelo Guglielmo. 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.
Leech holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, and a BFA and MFA level Postgraduate Degree from Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a Hell’s Kitchen Foundation Grant, several Scottish Arts Council awards, and a Thouron British/American Exchange Fellowship, Leech’s artwork resides in private and public collections. Corporate acquisitions and commissions include Brookfield, Cimolai, John Civetta & Sons, Cornerstone, Despé Italia, Metropolitan Walters, NYC Constructors, Sciame, SL Green Realty and Stonebridge. Her artwork is in the permanent collection of the New-York Historical Society Museum.
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The Monolith is a short documentary that takes you inside Gwyneth Leech's Manhattan painting studio for an intimate conversation about art, love, loss and change in New York City. It debuted as a Staff Pick on Vimeo in November 2017 and was named a Short of the Week:
"The Monolith defies our expectations re. artist profiles with this profound and visually engaging portrait of NYC artist Gwyneth Leech." The Monolith has screened nationally and internationally at film festivals. It was awarded the top prize at the Istanbul Architecture and Urban Films Festival in 2019.