Gwenn Thomas

EXILE
Elisabethstr 24/1
December 8, 2017–January 27, 2018

Gwenn Thomas, Moments of Place III, 2013–14, C-print, aluminum frame, 19 1/2 x 25".

To walk the city after sundown is to experience vicarious warmth; glowing windows signify—rightly or not—warm interiors, full tables, and hospitable families. Threading a line between sentimentality and analytic detachment, Gwenn Thomas’s exhibition reckons with the window’s status as an interchange of conviviality and loneliness, fantasy and veiled reality. On the walls of this two-room gallery, she has hung eleven simulated panes, made from wood and metal frames, over photographs of exterior windows and translucent plastic laminate or Plexiglas.

The most uncanny pieces tend to recall picture frames. In Moments of Place IX, 2016–17, a small reddish horizontal piece puts a faintly comic spin on Thomas’s simulacra game. Other pieces likewise warp the window’s signification, as in Moments of Place III, 2013–14, where an angled C-print occupies a custom angled frame, morphing the rectangle into a graphic trapezoid; all over, vibrant hues evoke some unearthly atmosphere.

Interspersed with these photo-based works are pieces that mimic glowing windows, using framed sections of the transparent acrylic glass. Each is hung over a patch of vividly painted wall, infusing the faux panes with soft color. Like “Moments of Place,” 2013–, this series renders its motif using shifting forms and techniques. While a 2017 work from “Standard Candles,” 2016–, takes a basic quadrant shape, constructed from blond wood, the standalone Antonioni’s Window, 2017, is triangular, but with one curved corner. Displaying the degree of care that earnest homages demand, the latter is deftly crafted, with delicate hinges accenting its cream paint job. Though often associated with the driest of aesthetic ventures, architecture and seriality here energize a gallery full of awkward and protean forms.

— Mitch Speed