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55 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002 212 989 5467

Chris Gallagher: Flight

September 8 - October 8, 2023

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Chris Gallagher employs parallel bands of color flowing across his abstract paintings to suggest luminous, otherworldly phenomena filling the surface and extending beyond its edges. In past work, streams of pigment raced across the picture planes in uninterrupted arcs, hovering like ethereal scrims. In these new paintings, he retains the vibrant ribbons, but here they are interspersed with structure, shadow and illusionistic depth. The resulting images appear to contain slices of flowing energy, with the addition of mysterious spaces of unknown scale.
The paintings in Flight were inspired by airline travel undertaken as the pandemic eased. Gallagher took photos from his plane seat during flights, capturing oblique fragments of the aircraft window along with unfamiliar stratospheric light flowing over the cabin surfaces. Gallagher transforms these details using intuitive color selection, with blues, grays and yellows predominating. He particularly concentrates on the intricate lines of the multi-layered window edges. They appear as bands of muted or vivid hues, alternately contracting and expanding as they pass from one edge of the painting to the other. While some bands can be read as flat, abstract elements, the raking light throws shadows across them, defining irregular, inky spaces from which dimensional forms emerge. Jutting between the shadows are wide, flat shapes with curvilinear edges, narrowing to sharp peaks. In some, a glimpse of an atmospheric vista or sliver of sky is visible through a crescent of the illuminated window.
As the viewer’s gaze skims along the surface tracks of color in these paintings, it is ultimately drawn back into the depths along the edges of structures. Slowly, the solid shape of an armrest or a seat back emerges, contextualizing the image as a close-up view. Perception then shifts, and the structures warp into monumental, light-filled architectural forms enveloping the observer. Eventually, the forms flatten once again into balanced, glowing swathes. In each case, Gallagher has melded color, velocity and space into paintings that feel both tightly contained and spatially expansive. From one’s seat at 30,000 feet, the tenuous distinction between the minuscule and the vast is immediately on view.
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55 Orchard Street, New York, New York 10002 212 989 5467