View of “Eva LeWitt,” 2018. Photo: Christian Tunge.

View of “Eva LeWitt,” 2018. Photo: Christian Tunge.

Eva LeWitt

View of “Eva LeWitt,” 2018. Photo: Christian Tunge.

Commissioned in 1918 but completed only in 1950, Oslo’s stately city hall, or rådhus, showcases several decades of Norway’s achievements in art and crafts, alongside local natural resources such as the resplendent Fauske marble. Hailing from the Arctic Nordland, the stone is dubbed “Norwegian rose” for its predominantly pinkish hue, but it can also be found in variations of glacial white, warmed by creamy emerald undertones, edged in lilac. This same marble was used throughout the rådhus’s adjacent facilities, including the former welfare office, built in 1937 on what is today Tordenskiolds gate—home to the gallery VI, VII.

For her first solo exhibition in this space, American sculptor Eva LeWitt found inspiration in the way the sunlight streamed in through the window front and pooled within the patterns of the Fauske marble. Over the past few years, LeWitt has developed a keen following for her ingenious arrangements of simple synthetics in combinations that counter-poise light, color, and form. Her sculptures, which LeWitt constructs in situ using no additional adhesives, conduct an elegant negotiation of the properties and limitations of her materials, with the weight, shape, or pliancy of one element determining the behavior of its surrounding forms. For instance, for Untitled, 2017, shown at her 2017 solo presentation at Frieze New York, the artist mounted a spine of pale-custard-colored polyurethane blocks vertically up the wall, like a condensed Judd stack. Threaded between the blocks were long, thin ribs of plastic vinyl, which fell naturally on either side of the stack and into a gentle shrug of a downward arch. LeWitt flanked this spine with two round polyurethane pegs in butterscotch yellow, tucking several of the vinyl strips beneath them to compose a modified bell curve.

LeWitt’s installation at VI, VII suspended a garland of layered “valances” from a row of palm-size rectangular polyurethane blocks that trailed along three walls of the gallery, leaving the window front as the only surface not covered in “curtains.” Each valance consisted of scalloped progressions of looped strips of latex and plastic vinyl in varying colors, lengths, and degrees of translucence. Freely cradled at the bottom of each of these loops was a cylindrical foam pellet, whose dimensions in turn dictated the width of the loop, carving the wall into orderly lanes of overlapping hues. The total installation comprised thirteen individual sections, partitioned in asymmetrical configurations titled according to wall (A, B, or C) and placement (113), e.g., Untitled (C13) or Untitled (B8). Each section blended multiple valances in varying color schemes, from canary-yellow strips with turquoise pellets, to a Creamsicle combo of beige and bright orange, to an iridescent scarlet tipped with varying shades of aquamarine and Kelly green. In areas where the valances overlap, the shades modulate depending on the angle from which they are viewed and the angle at which the light filters through, as governed by the translucency of the vinyl or latex.

Countering the manufactured with the manual, LeWitt orders the vinyl and latex in industrial sheets, but then cuts each strip by hand, allowing for slight inconsistencies in their silhouettes. Likewise, for this gallery installation, each individual block of polyurethane was cast manually, with subtle swirls of pigment introduced during the process to mimic marble patterning. LeWitt polished each block or pellet to approximate a Fauske finish, while allowing the material to retain its airy feel: It appeared only just heavy enough to keep the entire piece from collapsing.

Kate Sutton