Mighty morphin' power ranger

Christian Maychack's mutating pieces challenge the boundaries of time, space, physics
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REVIEW Those of us who got to see the eastbound I-580 freeway connector overpass right after it was charbroiled by that teetering gas tanker truck understand the weirdness of witnessing a thing so hefty and solid transformed into something much like melted cheese sliding off a pizza slice. It was a grave reminder that structures, no matter how fixed their engineering appears to be, can stop holding a given form and make like something entirely else if given the opportunity.

Bay Area sculptor Christian Maychack is a master of creating objects in which materials misbehave in ways that leave their viewers with a sense that the laws of physics are just aching to be broken. For "Christian Maychack: A General Record of Things Breaking Down," the artist's second solo show at the Gregory Lind Gallery, Maychack has created a site-specific work as well as several wall pieces and other freestanding pieces, all of which are variations on the themes of evolution and transformation.

His site-specific work is installed on both sides of a partial wall. On one side, what looks to be scrap lumber and decorative molding stacked and standing in the corner turns out on closer investigation to be morphing at the bottom — the molding is molding. And the tops of the tallest pieces of lumber appear snakelike and wiggle over the wall. When the top of the wall is viewed from the other side of the divider, the lumber seems to have burst forth from within, as if worms or roots have exploded from soil. Below, the corner of the wall has curled up slightly, separating from the floor, and has started to reconfigure itself as a crystalline, multifaceted form. Farther down, near one's feet, the gallery wall has started to suck into itself, becoming some sort of mineral that doesn't allow itself to be defined as animal or vegetable — or drywall.

On the back wall of the gallery, a wonderfully globby Rorschach form oozes like an overly muscled but flayed GI Joe doll. It appears to have time-warped from the baroque era but not quite to have survived the trip. Titled A Thinnest of Betweens, this monochrome gray wall piece hangs with the presence of a regal portrait, but with an air of cartoon malevolence too.

There's exuberance in much of what Maychack creates, a quality of frozen animation that makes the pieces seem to be holding their breath in order not to be found out. One pedestaled piece in particular has stopped midbounce, like a froth of marshmallow fluff that is either symbiotically sharing space with or being virally infected by volcanic, rocky bits. The chunks subtly taint the plump creaminess with their rusty dust.

Close to the gallery's reception desk, a sponge-colony form buds from the wall, white and gray with a shiny dark gray cap, as if it were readying itself for even further mushroomy blooming. It grows with an elegant lean, which hints at the essence of Maychack's objects: they are so well crafted and organically clever that viewers depart feeling like they have been given a convincing presentation of what mysterious life forces are capable of. In these works, stuff has a way of willing itself into existence — even in places where we have assumed there is no life. Maychack gives us another plot twist in the evolutionary story, which in some way, during this uncertain time of teetering environmental stability, seems fantastically hopeful. Lo, the very stuff from which we have built our shelters could bubble forth and mutate its way into our ecosystem. *

CHRISTIAN MAYCHACK: A GENERAL RECORD OF THINGS BREAKING DOWN

Through June 30

Tues.–Sat., 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Gregory Lind Gallery

49 Geary, fourth floor, SF

(415) 296-9662

www.gregorylindgallery.com

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