April 4 - June 20, 2020
In this series of linen works, Mokha Laget creates complex articulations of imaginary space by freely arranging geometric shapes on stretched fabric. Spatial and architectural in nature, yet untethered from gravity, these forms operate like a kind of visual poem that unfolds across the picture plane. Off the grid and hinged together by only a few lines, the shapes are arranged like abstract scenery, emerging purely from an intuition of right proportions and formal dynamics. These paintings follow an aesthetic strategy similar to that of a Capriccio, a type of 18th century painting in which enigmatic and disparate architectural elements are brought together in fictional scenes, suggesting simultaneously believable yet impossible realms. The term Capriccio can also refer to free-form music, and is closely associated with the process of improvisation. Each shape grows dynamically and organically in space—the way cloud formations might develop—and speaks the language of contemporary dance choreography.
Born in North Africa (and now living in New Mexico), Mokha Laget has long been influenced by vast empty spaces in terms of their light, color, expanse, time and architecture. Her childhood was steeped in the desert and in French art and culture. Later, as an undergraduate at the Corcoran School of Art, Laget was closely involved with the Washington Color School (WCS), working as studio assistant to painter Gene Davis for four years and enjoying a lifelong friendship with Paul Reed. Today, Laget remains one of the few women historically connected to Color Field painting, with the added dimension of a European sensibility and the influence of the New Mexican desert. Laget’s paintings follow a trajectory of historically referenced painting spanning hard edge, color field and geometric abstraction. She creates her hard edge forms by painting on unprimed canvas, soaking the fabric with layers of a clay base paint she has developed, adding surface tension and a deeply matte texture to her canvases.
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