Thrillseeker(s) – Ludwig Schwarz

project room: Willie Gregory


“At LUMP gallery, Dallas artist Ludwig Schwarz, who was recently featured in Art in America, and Brooklyn’s Willie Gregory, challenge viewers with minimalism, humor and pathos. Schwarz’s Thrillseeker(s), which loosely fills the front space, complicates the line between expectation and delivery with an open-for-business-style banner stretching across the gallery’s exterior, announcing “Ludwig Schwarz Indian Cuisine Lunch Buffet $5.95.” Inside, three photographic portraits printed on poster paper (at Eckerd’s One Hour Foto, the artist reveals) depict an Asian woman smiling in front of a blurred beauty products aisle, a Middle Eastern man smiling from the half-open window of his car, and a Caucasian man in a wig and Dali-esque moustache. The photos are pinned along the top of the wall near the ceiling, literally and figuratively distanced from one another across the room by vast and awkward negative space.


In LUMP’s project room, Willie Gregory’s Recent Pin-ups series treads similar ground, with photographic self-portraits and reintroduced pop photos presented in photocopies that have fold lines down their centers–which, along with the show title, give them the appearance of having been torn from the center of pornographic magazines. In a grouping with an obvious bird theme, Gregory is repeatedly pictured nude in a bathtub, gesturing toward the camera with middle fingers thrust forward and standing silhouetted by a window, flipping the bird with one hand and presenting his penis with the other. The effect is a juxtaposition of come-hither poses and go-away gestures, creating a sense of emotional detachment borne of loneliness and isolation. These caustic self-portraits are mingled with photos of sinister-looking birds and cages, and both are shot in a faux-candid manner that feels voyeuristic and intrusive. The 10 photos surround a central shot of daybreak over a cityscape that appears to light the others around it, alluding to a life ironically immersed in humanity yet finally alone and defiantly masturbatory.

Other single “pinups” include two images each, taken from teen, fashion and art magazines, which are separated only by their centered fold lines. This style of display renders all magazine printed photographs pornographic by default, and poses questions of what is or is not profane. In the curator’s wise pairing, Gregory’s Recent Pin-ups seems to further Schwarz’s argument about an often hackneyed human existence.”

Excerpt from the INDY 

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