Kristina Lewis Gets ‘Heavy’ at Oakland’s Sweeney Kaye

Kristina Lewis, 'Double Heavy, Full of Holes,' 2017. Ultracal 30, fiberglass, pigment, polymer varnish.

Kristina Lewis, 'Double Heavy, Full of Holes,' 2017. Ultracal 30, fiberglass, pigment, polymer varnish. (Courtesy of the artist and Sweeney Kaye)

While commercial galleries flock to San Francisco’s Dogpatch and Bayview neighborhoods for ever-larger exhibition spaces, inside a new office and small business compound one block from Oakland’s MacArthur BART station, Sweeney Kaye proves a shipping container might be all the room you need.

San Francisco-based artist Kristina Lewis’ current solo show, Heavy Foam, consists of just nine sculptures on sleek white shelves and six framed prints hung opposite them. The sculptures may look familiar. Each brightly colored, slightly textured form is culled from an assortment of packing foam, their shapes and contours determined by the objects that foam used to protect.

Left: Kristina Lewis, 'Hard Slab in Dome, No. 2,' 2017. Hydrocal, fiberglass, pigment, epoxy clay, polymer varnish; Right: Kristina Lewis, 'Void on Hard Waves,' 2017. Papier-mâché, pigment, polymer varnish.
Left: Kristina Lewis, ‘Hard Slab in Dome, No. 2,’ 2017. Hydrocal, fiberglass, pigment,
epoxy clay, polymer varnish; Right: Kristina Lewis, ‘Void on Hard Waves,’ 2017. Papier-mâché, pigment,
polymer varnish. (Courtesy of the artist and Sweeney Kaye)

The interplay between positive and negative space is further compounded by the fact that Lewis’ sculptures are all cast objects, made with an impressive list of materials: hydrocal, fiberglass, papier-mâché, epoxy clay, polymer varnish. Titles like Double Heavy, Full of Holes and Void on Hard Waves further hint at the heft of these once lightweight forms. It’s hard to contain the desire to test their solidity.

Across the shipping container a series of archival pigment prints shed the sculpture’s playful colors to focus on positive and negative spaces against a black background. Removed from their original packaging and flattened into just two dimensions, the silhouettes in the prints become abstract units of composition. Lewis seems to enjoy symmetrical arrangements and jaunty angles.

Kristina Lewis, 'Heavy Listening, Three Movements,' 2017. Polyurethane, atomized brass, varnish.
Kristina Lewis, ‘Heavy Listening, Three Movements,’ 2017. Polyurethane, atomized brass, varnish. (Courtesy of the artist and Sweeney Kaye)

Lewis’ show is the first in a year of all women artists, a fact gallery owner Andrew Berg is proud to point out. Sweeney Kaye is Berg’s first foray into exhibiting artists, but he’s also the owner of the frame shop Small Works SF, which helps explain the meticulous presentation of Lewis’ works.

If cavernous warehouse spaces have you reaching for the extra layer you carry around like a good Bay Area denizen, add Sweeney Kaye to your Temescal art-viewing loop (with equally cozy Interface and Royal NoneSuch Gallery) and enjoy getting up close and personal with Lewis’ Heavy Foam. Just keep your hands in your pockets.

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Heavy Foam is on view inside 644 40th Street, Oakland through March 1, Sundays 12-5pm and by appointment. For more information visit instagram.com/sweeneykaye.

Author

Sarah Hotchkiss

Sarah Hotchkiss is KQED Arts’ Visual Arts Editor, an artist and half of Stairwell’s. Follow her at @sahotchkiss.

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