Gwyneth Leech, Vanishing Distance: 16 Views to the West

  • My paintings explore the incremental yet rapid high-rise building process as New
    York City undergoes extensive physical and demographic changes. In 2015, the
    construction of a 42-floor building began outside my studio window on West 39th
    Street in the Garment District. My first impulse was to move. Instead, I decided to
    stay and make paintings of the process as the new building went up and blocked
    my view to the north. 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. It became a metaphor for things we can’t change, but have to learn to
    live with and to work around in some way.
    Once the Monolith was finished, I turned my attention to a second structure that
    was rising to the west. Looking out my window in that direction I had long enjoyed
    a distant view across the Hudson river to Weehawken where the buildings piled up
    along the horizon reminded me of Italian hill towns. As construction of this second new
    building proceeded inexorably, I made weekly paintings through 2016 and into 2017
    until the distance was blocked and replaced by a slab of pale concrete, now the Pod
    Hotel on the corner of West 42nd Street and 9th Avenue. The grid of 16 paintings
    included in Picturing Space is a selection of the 40 + paintings I did of this single,
    rapidly changing vista.