Conceived at the height of the pandemic, STO LAT Gallery’s inaugural physical show plays with symbols of control, isolation, escalation, and hope

In Peter LaBier’s paintings, you’ll find a horse galloping by a set of handcuffs. Or a spotted butterfly, hovering next to an unlit smartphone. There are police officers surrounded by crescendoing musical notes, soaring birds lost in expanses of cloud. Outstretched hands reaching for something undefined, or just out of frame.

A Shot May Be Made, LaBier’s latest show, materialized over lockdown. It expresses the contradictions—the simultaneous freedoms and limitations—of that time. “The paintings on view accumulate images of control, isolation, escalation, and hope,” reads a press release from STO LAT Gallery. “These inherited symbols juxtapose and overwrite one another, competing for real estate and attention.”

Left: Black Like Thunder, 2021. Right: Snug Eternal, 2021. All images courtesy the artist and STO LAT Gallery.

As STO LAT’s inaugural physical exhibition, A Shot May Be Made sets the tone for the gallery, which was founded in 2021 by Peter Curtis and Catherine Ewa Litke. It’s fitting that the pair chose an artist emerging in tandem with their own venture—part of the gallery’s mission is to highlight great work that could otherwise go unnoticed. LaBier’s paintings seem at home in the Greenpoint gallery. The greyscale palette contrasts with the playful nature of the figures on canvas, and the space itself feels at once simple and full of character.

The show is instantly relatable, both due to its abstract, free-associative nature, and its roots in the pandemic—an experience we all share. States the gallery, “Although LaBier’s work endorses chance, symbolism, and subversion, his eye is also skeptical and democratic. Slyly, his work questions heroic proclamations of truth—both narrative and psychological—by placing their underlying visual language up for debate.”

Peter LaBier’s A Shot May Be Made is on view at STO LAT through May 14.