Past Exhibition: Among Verticals by Annie Leist

Past Exhibition: Among Verticals by Annie Leist

This 5 foot tall by 4 foot wide oil painting on canvas reads at first glance as an abstraction. Vertical brushed gestures slash through, sinking under broad swaths of paint, skewering through haze to re-emphasize their strong lines, then dispelled and overtaken by brush marks skittering nearby. This creates a lot of movement, akin to how it feels on water or through clouds, staying on course but waves abutting the sturdy boat . One thinks of water, clouds or sky due to the primarily aquatic palette, made of grey, blue lavender and turquoise, with shimmering bright yellow white light glinting here and there. That it is titled "Revolving Door" and alludes to urban spaces is not surprising given how in our New York City nature is captured in glass.

Revolving Door 5, 2023, oil on canvas, 60 x 49 inches

From November through February, Wagner College’s Union Gallery proudly presented Among Verticals, a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Annie Leist. 

The dreamlike compositions of Leist’s new series of large-scale oil paintings invite us in. We are guided through intimations of architectural structures, colored light billowing, collapsing spaces near and far. Enveloped in a diffuse atmosphere, the distinction between inside and outside blurs, most notably in the revolving door series. These works, like all pieces in the show, use Leist’s daily lived experience as a starting point to explore the fragmented, ambiguous nature of cityspace. Leist has very low vision, making the act of navigating the city a unique practical and visual adventure. In this work, she shares this private experience with us all, making the prospect of wayfinding and exploration one we can all appreciate for both its challenges and its beauty. While addressing the interaction of space and sight, her work raises larger questions of how we each find our way in this labyrinthine city, and how that is influenced by our own distinct visual perception.

The exhibition title, Among Verticals, is a nod to Mme Kupka among Verticals (1910-11), a painting by František Kupka, beloved by both Leist and curator Pamela Lawton. For Leist, the work resonates with how she experiences New York CIty: the juxtaposition of architecture’s abstractions and the people moving through the spaces they create.

Annie Leist was born in North Carolina and lives in New York City. She studied at Wake Forest University, Trinity College Dublin, and Rutgers. Her work is in collections in the US and abroad.