Lisa Kairos makes atmospheric images to get lost in. Her work explores the relationship between natural and human environments, complexity, and navigation within real and imagined landscapes. Working in her San Francisco studio, she layers gestural and precise imagery, developing a dynamic sense of dimension, expansion, and buoyancy within each painting. Lisa exhibits her work nationally and participates in residencies and collaborations that focus on our personal and communal experience of the environment. Her work is held in numerous private and corporate collections.
My paintings explore the relationship between natural and human environments and how we perceive them. One of my earliest memories is of walking with my parents off a city street, down the side of an embankment, to sit with our feet in the cold water of a creek. Above, it was noisy and hot, with the acrid smell of car exhaust in the air, but below it smelled of plants and earth, and I felt as if I had slipped into an entirely other, secret place. One just beneath the urban veneer. I am interested in recreating that experience in my paintings--a moment of slippage and surprise, a glitch of beauty in an unexpected place. I am drawn to landscapes that combine nature and utility, usually the remainders and margins of urban space or land that has been shaped by use, infrastructure, and sometimes restoration. I focus on areas where one type of space transitions to another: shadow to light, burn pile to ash, tidal marsh to open water. Where one thing becomes another, I find a metaphor for transformation.
In my studio, I work in transparent layers, staining, painting, and drawing. I combine and recombine imagery, creating intimate impressions and visual fields that hold the feeling of the places I’ve explored. I interrupt painterly spaces with geometry and line or a shift in scale or resolution in an effort to create perceptual ambiguity. Gestural passages mingle with cartographical and technological references. The result is a complex of color, form, and line that holds a sense of floating space.