New York

Margery Edwards

St. Boniface Chapel, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Margery Edwards, rather than situating herself in that distant theoretical zone in which painting is burdened down with the weight of calculated conceits, freely explores the suggestive powers of form, color, and light to articulate what appear to be certain truths about our experiences in both urban and natural environments. The two monumental dark forms that dominate compositions such as N.Y. 712, N.Y. 741, N.Y. 742, and N.Y. 743, all 1987, and the way these vertical forms overlap at oblique angles—or sometimes don’t close the gap but leave just a slice of polar field between—recreate for the viewer the curious disorientation of entering urban canyons defined by looming skyscrapers.

In N.Y. 712 particularly, a rosy tinted haze tugging at the edges of these forms-cum-buildings suggests both the fires of urban life and the promise of a coming dawn. And a narrow “skyline” of glowing light above the black clifflike forms of N.Y. 743 hints at another world as yet unknown, a glorious realm waiting beyond massive forms that seem to bar easy entry. Edwards manipulates her forms differently in several other paintings, and to most powerful effect in the large diptych N.Y. 711, also 1987. Here, she interrupts the darker configurations with two tunnellike passages of vibrating pink and pale blue. Edwards builds up her surfaces by applying multiple layers of different colored pigments. Her volumes—weighty and substantial—are at the same time delicately nuanced in color and texture. In these “Dark Night Paintings,” the artist contemplates the significance of this world’s otherworldly elements.

Ronny Cohen