New York

Laylah Ali

303 Gallery

There are still some “greenheads” in Laylah Ali’s new gouaches. But the artist’s signature creatures—with their spindly limbs, androgynous bodies, orbicular green heads, and brutal group antics—have mostly given way to a new race whose violently pink skins and hieratic placement on the paper seem to speak less about the ghastly comedy of societal cruelty and more about the eerie isolation of individuals.

Centered on smallish, vertically oriented sheets and pressed against opaque skies, Ali’s people—if that’s the word for them—appear volitionless. Crisp geometry and a pervasive, perhaps telltale palette of flat reds, whites, and blues lock the characters into their clothes, as if their bodies were mere filler for elaborate headdresses, wimples, and tunics. Poised between numbness and agitation, they stare into space like bit players whose roles are nonnegotiable though ambiguous. It does

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