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529 West 20th Street, 5FL
New York, NY 10011
212 352 8058
Skoto Gallery was established in 1992 as a space where some of the best works by African artists can be exhibited within the context of a diverse audience. Its inaugural exhibition was curated by African-American jazz luminary Ornette Coleman. As one of the first galleries specializing in contemporary African Art in New York City, it has been instrumental in the progression of this rapidly growing field. 

Despite its major commitment to contemporary African Art, the gallery has also managed to expand, deepen, and diversify its involvement with contemporary issues by engaging a wide range of art and artists in its programming. The gallery sees art in ecumenical terms and often organizes exhibitions to show the interconnected relationships of a postmodern global culture after Modernism. 
Artists Represented:
Afi Nayo
Cathy Lebowitz
Donald Locke
George Afedzi Hughes
Lula Mae Blocton
Maurice Nkainfon Pefura
Olu Amoda
Osaretin Ighile
Uche Okeke

Current Exhibition

David Rich

Upon the Slow Read

May 2, 2024 - June 15, 2024
The paintings of David Rich are rooted in the physicality of urban landscape and the luminous buzz of evening light. As abstract paintings, they also evoke something even more local—an intimate sense of lived experience within one’s body, including pre-verbal observations not yet coalesced into fixed images—alive and reconfiguring at the level of our synapses. Densely layered and decisively edited, these paintings set up a spatial structure that appears to shift as implied connections and ghost images assert an alternate read. Elemental constructions of interior/exterior spaces and visual dialogues of call-and-response phrases, the resulting paintings feel solid and rooted, yet open and breathing. These paintings reflect a particular attitude about improvisation that focuses not on complex elaboration, but rather on the elemental way that the parts contribute to the underlying visual statement, with a spare and concentrated economy of means in which nothing is extra, and everything is necessary. The resultant paintings take shape through inquiry and dialogue over time, becoming charged and resonant visual situations for looking at, and into—a place for durational seeing and thought. David Rich (b. 1952, Chicago) is a painter and educator living and working in Beacon, NY. His education includes Philadelphia College of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, New York Studio School Paris Session, Skowhegan and University of Oregon, MFA. Teaching includes Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1985-2010). Visiting Artist Lectures include Hartford Art School, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Universities of Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Solo exhibitions include Skoto Gallery, NYC; Satori Fine Art, Chicago; Franz Bader Gallery, Washington DC and Bernal Gallery, Chicago. Group exhibitions include Frye Museum, Seattle; Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore; Robert Steele Gallery, NYC; Poiesis Spec, Berlin; and Grayson Gallery, Chicago. Museum collections include Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Weisman Museum, and Minnesota Museum of American Art. Private collections nationally and internationally. Pictured: Evening, Interval, 2021, oil on canvas, 48x44 inches

Past Exhibitions

Christopher Wynter

Between Moments

March 14, 2024 - April 27, 2024
Skoto Gallery is pleased to present Between Moments, an exhibition of recent paintings by the American artist Christopher Wynter. This is his first solo show at the gallery. The reception is on Thursday, March 14, 6-8pm. The artist will be present. Christopher Wynter’s work continues his long-standing commitment to the exploration of color, form, and abstraction as means to expand the boundaries between art and consciousness. He draws upon an individual reserve of personal and collective memories to activate a meaningful form of engagement that celebrates the richness as well as the relationship of imagery and patterns in contemporary society. In the body of work included in this exhibition, the artist reveals an uncanny ability to reduce forms and ideas to their essence in his search for an alternative aesthetic and discursive framework that mines the nuances inherent in his use of a specific language of interacting primal shapes that are meticulously composed, shifting, overlapping, and often unresolved to create works evocative of social hierarchies. His compositions of spaces, complex but clearly structured on vertical and horizontal axes facilitates notions of containment, isolation, resolution, possibilities as well as forms not fully realized, all of which can be seen as metaphors for human social constructs and dynamics. Several of the more recent paintings, having radically reduced color, starkly create an intriguing spatial ambiguity. and dramatic journey to visually wander through very dark textured shapes contrasted with the very light spaces between. The artist is aware of the interplay of intention and accident; curiosity and discovery as well as an open-ended improvisational sensibility to create works that comes alive to convey temporal and spatial dimensions. Christopher’s extensive travels in Africa, Europe and Asia over the years have helped him to develop an approach to life and art that synthesizes into a distinct and dynamic whole the various components of his identity and create work that makes meaning of a collective history as well as the ambiguities and contradictions of contemporary culture. Funded by the Asian Cultural Council, Art International and others, he has lived and worked with artisans and artists in Cote d’Ivoire and Mali, as well as the Amis (Indigenous peoples of Taiwan), and the Ainu (indigenous people of Japan). Exhibitions include PS1/Institute of Contemporary Art, 1989, From the Studio: Artist-in-Residence, The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, 1992; Altos de Chavon, Dominican Republic, 1996; Bronx Museum of Art, 2000, Kuala Lumpur Art Center, Malasia, 2021, a Gathering of the Tribes, NYC, 2010 etc. With an interest in reaching the wider interest for public works, he has translated his language of finding meaning in non-representational and representational form and shape to sculpture and public works including glass mosaic for NYC MTA subway system; Commissioned public sculpture in wood and steel in Guatemala, Central America; Dominican Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa; Aibetsu, Japan, Hualein, Taiwan and New London, CT. He lives and works in NYC. Image: Upriver, 2024, oil on canvas, 28×24 inches

Cathy Lebowitz

Dark Skies, Rocks

February 1, 2024 - March 9, 2024
SKOTO GALLERY 529 West 20th Street, 5FL.New York, NY 10011 212-352 8058 Cathy Lebowitz Dark Skies, Rocks February 1 – March 9, 2024 Skoto Gallery is pleased to present new work by American artist Cathy Lebowitz. This is the second solo exhibition by the artist at the gallery. The reception is on Thursday, February 1, 6-8pm. The artist will be present. In these new works executed in gouache on paper, pictorial structures begin to take on a life of their own. A vocabulary of spaces—horizons, mountains, rocks, streams, caves, huts, portals—roil through a skewed space that recalls Munch or Soutine, and at times Marsden Hartley. The works’ relation to landscape is best articulated by an excerpt from a letter written by Joan Mitchell in 1958: “I am very much influenced by nature as you define it . . . I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me and remembered feelings of them, which of course becomes transformed.” Repetition of a high horizon line and dark skies brings the works in the exhibition into concert. Each piece functions as an individual composition, but they can also be seen as moments in an ongoing scape. Within the vocabulary of spaces, oddities present themselves. For one, the horizon is overactive showing increased activity rather than fading to a blur. Another strangeness is the accessibility of areas that are normally obscured, like the space inside a cave. One group of works that uses a palette of rich greens, umbers and grays takes as its subject a fantastical view into the inner life of boulders. Fluid, juicy brushstrokes define liminal spaces that transition between inside and outside, reality and abstraction. In other works, brushstrokes are distinct and many, like a Cambrian explosion of forms. The scene is more elaborate if equally transitional. The view is steep and deep, suffused by a preternatural light, where darkness above the horizon gives way to illuminated terrain below. Lebowitz’s first exhibition at the gallery in 2021 was chosen as one of the best shows of the year by Roberta Smith in The New York Times. Smith wrote, “They are modest, completely riveting and highly unstable. Their surfaces are filled with interlocking shapes and textures that reflect the influence of Gorky and, oddly, Morandi. They refuse to coalesce into legibility, continually hinting at different possibilities.” Embracing the impossibility of stasis, the inevitability of time’s continuous movement, the works accept change as an imperative of existence. They occupy a state of becoming that suggests their own unbecoming. Action and reaction are suspended in the finite system of the frame. Cathy Lebowitz lives and works in New York City. She was an editor at Art in America magazine for many years and a contributing editor to Lacanian Ink. She was a correspondent on the public access TV show Gallery Beat, with Paul H-O and Walter Robinson. After graduating from Smith College, she attended the New York Studio School, and currently teaches in the visual arts department at Fordham University.

Lula Mae Blocton

Twisted Forms, Transparent Bands, 1981-1996

November 11, 2023 - January 27, 2024
Skoto Gallery is pleased to present a selection of abstract paintings and drawings from the African-American artist Lula Mae Blocton’s Twisted Forms, Transparent Band series, 1981-96. This will be her second solo show at the gallery and continues the historical survey started in the first exhibition dedicated to the 1970s.The exhibition is on view through January 27, 2024. From the very beginning of her career, Lula Mae Blocton has been described as a colorist. As a graduate student at Indiana University in the 1970s, she devoted much of her time to an in-depth study of color. She learned its theory, experimented with its possibilities, and contemplated its cultural symbolism. She did this with passion and determination, inscribing herself in a long line of painters. Her favorite artists – Josef Albers, Johannes Vermeer, Alma W. Thomas and, Samia Halaby – a merging of sophisticated use of color with an architectural organization of the pictorial space. She followed their examples, putting color, abstraction and light at the center of her preoccupation as a painter. Beyond her formal quest, Blocton has wanted her art to be reflective of her beliefs, her stands for racial equality and LGBTQ rights. Her paintings, formally and philosophically, have stood by these ideals. Lula Mae Blocton’s entire lifework makes the case that being a colorist and an abstractionist does not necessitate stepping back from political activism. Unlike her color grids of the 1970s that explored the full color spectrum, and are at times reminiscent of textile patterns, in the Twisted Forms, Transparent Band series, 1981-1996, Blocton’s work entered a phase of horizontal expansion. Space became the center of the exploration. She remembers “In this series, I aim to create images that would expand the viewer’s perception of space into multiple dimensions”. The works expressed a new level of energy and dynamism. To extend their reach, Blocton started producing multi-panel works – diptychs and triptychs on canvas, and occasionally multi-panel compositions by combining sheets of paper. The three dimensional illusionism in this series is remarkable, turning space in some of these paintings into galactic landscape. It combines sculptural modeling to effects of transparencies and light reflections. To compose these works, Blocton set up still lives in her studio with roles of translucent paper and color grid works set up behind them. The results are drawings and paintings of incredible precision level. These works are made from observation and scrutiny of the object in front of the artist, in the same way Renaissance masters worked and Picasso set up his cubist guitars. Blocton demonstrates impeccable technique and sense of rhythm in these playful and masterful rendering of reality, which appear completely abstract. Blocton is part of the post-war generation of American artists who entered art school when color in abstraction was predominantly associated with the aging abstract expressionist movement. In the sixties and seventies this generation went on to pioneer minimalism and conceptual art, as well as process art and performance art. Figuration was mostly taken up by artists looking to make socio-political statements: the practitioners of pop art, feminist art, and the Black aesthetics movement. The creative scene in this period was as dynamic as ever, but work that defied categorization often struggled to gain notice. Many artists fell through the cracks of art historical narratives, and we are only now coming to understand their contributions. Lula Mae Blocton is one of them. Lula Mae Blocton (b. 1947) is Michigan-born and traces her heritage to a rural community near Selma, Alabama. She earned an MFA from Indiana University and retired as Emeritus Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University in 2014. Barbara Stehle. PhD, Art Historian and Independent curator This exhibition celebrates the release of the 2nd edition of the publication “Lula Mae Blocton: African-American Experience through Color and Pattern”, a 225-page hardcover monograph with autobiographical text by the artist, accompanied with an insightful essay by art historian and independent curator Dr. Barbara Stehle. Published by Palestine Books, the monograph presents an overview with full color images of Lula Mae Blocton’s work from 1970s to the present.

Katherine Taylor


September 7, 2023 - October 21, 2023
Skoto Gallery is pleased to present Metamorphosis, an exhibition of new works by the American-born sculptor Katherine Taylor. This is the fourth solo exhibition by the artist at the gallery. The reception is on Thursday, September 7th, 6-8 pm. Katherine Taylor’s (KT) recent sculpture continues to explore strategies that fuse her themes and concern for elements drawn from the natural world with an awareness of a vast array of both formal and inherited sculptural traditions and techniques. Highly textured and rigorously constructed, her work starts in the outdoors and draws on the materiality of the landscape, a capacious imaginative energy and a ferocious will to create a body of work of harrowing beauty and insightfulness that constitute a remarkable statement about the interconnectedness of nature and the human spirit. Her practice of swapping tree bark textures for their animal counterparts creates subtle and uncanny mimicry that results in sculptures appearing to be in a state of constant flux: a strange back-and-forth that gives the viewer what the artist calls a sense of visual refreshment. In the artist’s own words: “Texture swapping involves the meticulous process of capturing the intricate details of various natural textures and then seamlessly blending them with unexpected counterparts. The juxtaposition of these textures results in a captivating fusion that surprises, intrigues, and provokes contemplation. By taking elements from the environment and swapping them out with one another, I aim to inspire a newfound appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the world around us” Included in the exhibition is “Porcustick, 2022”, a remarkable stainless steel piece that marries the texture of magnolia seed pods and budding tree branches. The sculpture invites tactile exploration, provoking sensations that mirror the porcupine’s defense mechanism. Bark Owl, 2023, masterfully plays on the ability of this nocturnal bird of prey to disguise among the trees. By employing the unique texture swapping technique, the very essence of the owl's perch is captured in the sculpture's texture. As you gaze upon the intricately molded form, you'll witness the symbiotic relationship between the bark texture and the bird, discovering the secrets woven into their visual harmony, much like a hidden 'Easter egg' waiting to be uncovered. KT’s artistry lies in her careful selection of textures, resulting in a sensory invasion that challenges preconceived notions of both art and nature. KT is a prolific artist who divides her time between Texas, the Adirondack Mountains, and northern Spain, where her foundry, Alfa Arte, is located. She is presently working on a 'prairie dog' sculpture commission for the Museum of the Southwest located in Midland, TX. In addition to enriching its permanent collection, the artist's task involves not only creating a visually engaging 'prairie dog' sculpture but also ensuring its educational significance, offering insights into the lives of these creatures. Next year, “Falcon”, a large metal sculpture with an astonishing 14-foot wingspan, completed in 2023 is scheduled for installation at the University of Texas Permian Basin. The resulting artwork aptly captures the vivacity and essence of the university's beloved Falcon mascot.

Ben Ajaero, Saheed Pratt

On the Edge: Works from the 1980s

May 13, 2023 - July 31, 2023
On the Edge: Works from the 1980s Ben Ajaero Saheed Pratt May 13 – June 17, 2023 Skoto Gallery is pleased to present On the Edge: Works from the 1980s, an exhibition of paintings and mixed media works by Nigeria-born artists Ben Ajaero and Saheed Pratt. Both artists have exhibited with the gallery several times over the years, and were included in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition that was curated by the late Ornette Coleman in 1992. The reception is on Saturday, May 13, 4-6pm. At a time when so much attention is being given to the works of African artists who live and work outside Africa by curators and exhibition organizers in the West in constructing narratives on contemporary African art practice, this exhibition highlights an intimate engagement with works by two Lagos-based artists whose works mine the microcosm of their culture for symbols that can be universally understood, it provides an alternative stance in the repositioning and rewriting of art historical discourse with insightful commentaries and observations on the social, economic and political realities of modern Africa. Ben Ajaero is a leading member of his generation whose work consistently explores the possibilities inherent in painting with remarkable elegance and lyrical beauty that speaks to the reality of Africa’s existence. A self-taught artist and an astute observer of the world around him, Ajaero strives to integrate his rich and varied cultural experience into a critical framework that engage with issues of history, identity and authenticity. He is aware of function and experiment as well as harmony and dissonance. Ajaero draws on a deep understanding of Africa’s philosophical and aesthetic concepts in his approach to making art, eschewing notions of traditional standard of beauty in favor of a more personal approach with a resourceful exploitation of unorthodox materials and textured surfaces. He dismisses the concept of perspectives in his work opting for a more direct two-dimensional presentation that creates the illusion of perspective by crudely overlapping objects within the picture space. The visual resonance in his work is undeniable, attesting to his ability to seamlessly fuse ancient and modern concepts and aesthetics in his search for creative excellence. He presently lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Saheed Pratt is a master story–teller who draws from his rich Yoruba cultural heritage as well as a cosmopolitan consciousness to create work that explores themes of memory, history, migration and the passage of time through the filter of personal experience. His work expertly exploits the ambiguities arising between darkness and radiance, abstraction and figuration as well as the intriguing play between formal intention and narrative potential. His rich complex composition draws on the visual traditions of concepts or figures in Yoruba cosmology and mythology as well as modern art in a manner that is neither superficial nor eclectic, but rooted firmly in his belonging to both cultures. He is a firm believer in the notion that modern artists in the African continent must dig deep into fertile soil with implement of creativity, he is aware of the creative process as a restless engagement with fleeting properties and strives to convey to the viewer the physical and mental engagement of the artist in his work. He is a widely exhibited artist whose work is in several collections at home and abroad.