Spotlight: Emerging Artist Zoe McGuire’s Radiant Art Nouveau-Inspired Paintings Inaugurate Gaa Gallery’s New York Space


About the Artist: Brooklyn-based artist Zoe McGuire (b. 1996) has garnered a reputation for her luminous and vivid oil paintings and pastel drawings. A graduate of Skidmore College, where she studied art history, McGuire’s work is evocative of several historical movements, foremost the Transcendental Painting Group, but also Art Nouveau and Precisionism—while simultaneously being immediately recognizable for her own distinctive aesthetic. Currently enrolled in the MFA program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, McGuire has already become a leading new artist to watch, and in 2022 she was the subject of two solo shows as well as half a dozen group shows ranging from Hong Kong to London.

What You Need to Know: On view through May 6, 2023, Gaa Gallery is presenting “Zoe McGuire: Cambium,” the inaugural exhibition at the gallery’s recently opened New York location in lower Manhattan. The title of the show references the anatomy of trees; the cambium is the thin layer of a tree’s trunk that both produces new layers of bark as well as wood, acting as a barrier between the plant’s internal and external world. Featuring both oil paintings on canvas as well as pastel on paper works, “Cambium” highlights McGuire’s synthesizing of near scientific study with artistic exploration. Approaching the genre of landscape painting from a nuanced and stylized perspective, the works on view offer a refreshed look at nature-inspired art and contemporary abstraction.

Why We Like It: McGuire’s paintings excel at drawing the viewer into their ethereal, meditative world, with the deft employment color, ground, and perspective inviting prolonged looking and the consideration of both the parts and the whole. With equal emphasis give to both immense landscape fixtures as well as molecular-like studies, the use of scale for emphasis recalls that of Renaissance art, and the near symmetry of the compositions underscore the parallels between the micro and the macro. In works such as (2023), the bold use of luminous color, like the streams of orange cascading down the center axis, create an undulating visual experience, destabilizing the figure-ground relationships. The mesmeric and balanced interplay between the formal elements of McGuire’s work results in a type of world building, one that is uniquely and distinctly her own.

See inside the exhibition and featured works below.

Installation view of "Zoe McGuire: Cambium" (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.

Installation view of “Zoe McGuire: Cambium” (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.

Zoe McGuire, Crescent Crown (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.

Zoe McGuire, (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.

Zoe McGuire, Petal Edge (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.

Zoe McGuire, (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.

Zoe McGuire, Waterway (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.

Zoe McGuire, (2023). Courtesy of Gaa Gallery, New York.


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