Press Release - Mokha Laget Hot Axis
November 15 - December 23, 2022
Opening Artist Reception: Thursday, November 17, 2022 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM
David Richard Gallery, LLC
508 West 26th Street, Suite 9E | New York, NY 10001
P: (212) 882-1705
David Richard Gallery is pleased to present Hot Axis, the gallery’s fourth solo exhibition for New Mexico- based artist, Mokha Laget. The exhibition includes eleven new paintings produced during 2022 using vinyl emulsion on primed, shaped canvases stretched on wood supports. The paintings range in size from smaller works at 33 x 36 inches up to mid-sized works of 50 x 62 inches, and larger works up to 60 x 91.5 inches.
About Mokha Laget’s Paintings:
These newest paintings by Mokha Laget exist at the intersection of the clearly defined, objective world of geometry and the subjective world of human perception, all contained within the flat, two-dimensional picture plane. This has been the approach to Laget's paintings in the recent past and at different times, leaning more one way than the other. Such a tilt toward geometric abstraction and architecture seems prevalent in the presentation, Hot Axis.
Geometry in Laget’s paintings is presented through color and hard edge, blocky and/or perspectival forms that are adjacent or overlapping planes within the compositions. The application of color is a painstakingly precise process with many layers of flat matte medium and pigment on each surface to provide the forms with a perfectly flat, pristine surface and non-reflective, distinct hues and values. The non-reflective surfaces are important such that the forms are defined solely by the hard-edge border and rich, depth of color, there is no modeling nor direct spatial references.
Visual perception in Laget’s paintings is a function of interactions between three formal elements: form, color, and composition. The color and value of the geometric forms described above are the critical starting point. The spectral temperature (warm or cool) of the hues, values and shades of each color as well as the interaction between adjacent colors effect the perception of colors either receding back or projecting forward, in and out of the picture plane, respectively. The final length of each geometric form and corresponding perspectival angle seems to be an empirical process for each composition and painting that relies heavily on Laget’s well trained eye and the combination of her meticulous process and color selections, such that internal tensions emerge within her compositions through the vector angles and shaped ends of the geometric forms. Together, these internal tensions and scaling decisions define the outer perimeter of the final shaped canvas and composition. They also effect the perception of space, volume, and spatial positioning of planar forms in front of and behind others. The internal compositional tensions, resulting largely from the extremes of interior vector angles and exterior shapes, effect the viewer’s perceptions of volume, dimensional space, and/or objects in a two-dimensional plane and the optical qualities in each painting.
The paintings, Alibi Desire, Optic Slide, Cubic Gravity and Antipodes #2 are excellent examples of highly optical compositions. Alibi Desire demonstrates with the greatest economy of means how two simple intersecting geometric forms and use of two values of the color red create the illusion of a three-dimensional form. The painting Cubic Gravity leverages both warm (yellow and green in the center) and cool (blue) colors combined with sharp vector angles to create the suggestion of a horizontal step in green and yellow with vertical risers above and below in blue, all positioned spatially above the red plane. This is also a good example of overlapping planes of color that become ordered spatially through color adjacency and temperatures, combined with vector angles that together, key up the internal tensions and optical properties of each shape.
As noted, Laget’s work is very much inspired and influenced by architecture and the world around her, which the degree of, determines how much the compositions read like: an illusionistic, almost three-dimensional object; a purely geometric abstraction; or elevation view of an architectural structure.
Examples of paintings that read more as geometric abstractions with strong architectural references include: Yellow Galileo, Pagoda Opus and Tide Stint. While the title refers to a Hindu or Buddhist temple, Pagoda Opus is comprised of two triangular shapes with the larger structure painted two hues of red and clearly in the foreground, while the smaller shape appears to be receding behind the larger due to the use of two distinct values of lavender-blue pigment, the darker of the two in the smaller triangular shape and the brighter, higher value piercing through the larger red triangle and in to the foreground. The spatial placement is achieved more by the color temperature and less by the use of perspective.
Two paintings in particular straddle both illusionistic space and geometric architectural realms: Squeak Cipher and Hot Axis. Squeak Cipher looks like an aerial view of three-dimensional building rooftops in a pueblo achieved with the use of perspective and vector angles as well as color interactions that both activate the eye, specifically the large swath of vivid orange in the foreground, and the interaction with various hues and values of blue.
About Mokha Laget:
Born in North Africa, schooled in France and the US, the artist travelled extensively as an international simultaneous interpreter. Her compositions and color palette are richly informed by foreign geography, cultures, and historical art movements. Laget studied at the Corcoran College of Fine Art in Washington, DC with Paul Reed as well as notable Washington DC artists: Leon Berkowitz and Tom Green. She worked as a studio assistant to Gene Davis for many years. As a painter living and working in Washington DC, she assimilated the works of the founding painters of the Washington Color School including Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Thomas Downing, Howard Mehring and Paul Reed. Their approach to non-objective painting explored the use of translucent colors layered on unprimed canvas to create a brilliant range of hues with the greatest economy of means. While those works remained essentially flat, their ingenious combination of shifting color values created a sense of expansive space with minimal colors and at times, on shaped canvas. Laget’s work consistently pushes the boundaries of the Color School aesthetic and concerns, defying Clement Greenberg’s Modernist orientation of depicted flatness. While her historical and technical knowledge of the Washington Color School and international geometric movements runs deep, her divergent experiences have enabled her to find her singular voice and create a unique and fresh body of work.
Mokha Laget has exhibited internationally for the past 30 years, including in France, Spain, Japan, Italy, Canada, Egypt, England and the United States. Her work has been covered in Art in America, The New Art Examiner, The Washington Post, Art, Ltd, The New Mexican, THE magazine, Dallas Morning News, TREND Magazine, The Washington Review, and the Santafean. Her work is in the collections of the Ulrich Museum, Art in Embassies, The George Washington Collection, The University of Texas, The Museum of Geometric and Madi Art, The Artery Collection, The National Institutes of Health, Sheldon Museum and included in many prominent national and international private and corporate collections. Laget lives and works “off the grid” in her studio in the mountains of New Mexico.
About David Richard Gallery:
Since its inception in 2010, David Richard Gallery has produced museum quality exhibitions that feature Post War abstraction in the US. The presentations have addressed specific decades and geographies as well as certain movements and tendencies. While the gallery has long been recognized as an important proponent of post-1960s abstraction—including both the influential pioneers as well as a younger generation of practitioners in this field— in keeping with this spirit of nurture and development the gallery also presents established artists who embrace more gestural and representational approaches to the making of art as well as young emerging artists.
In 2015 David Richard Gallery launched DR Art Projects to provide a platform for artists of all stripes—international, national, local, emerging and established—to present special solo projects or to participate in unique collaborations or thematic exhibitions. The goal is to offer a fresh look at contemporary art practice from a broad spectrum of artists and presentations. The Gallery opened its current location in New York in 2017.
Copyright © Mokha Laget
Courtesy David Richard Gallery.
All Photographs by Yao Zu Lu