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Matthias Düwel: SpinDrift

Mirus Gallery, 540 Howard Street, through November 16th.

At first glance, the paintings of Matthias Düwel’s “SpinDrift” exhibit might look like a joyful technicolor typhoon. That was my initial reaction upon entering the newly opened Mirus gallery and meeting these paintings face-to-face. The swirling, bubbling riot seemed like a circus bursting out of control. And then I looked closer, beyond the cheerful plastic colors. Piles of discarded debris welling up over an Airstream trailer, tiny houses with the roofs ripped off, structures twisted and mashed — there’s a lot happening in these paintings, and none of it’s good. Düwel gives us a frightening vision of a disposable culture drowning in its own excess.

Matthias Düwel: SpinDrift

The paintings are fascinating to look at, and you can spend a lot of time picking through the  various vortexes, searching for a place to rest your eye if even for a moment, looking for survivors in these terrible worldscapes. Some are in color, and contrasts of hue, temperature, and focus create tensions and motion, while others are monochromatic and use contrasts of value and scale to suggest dizzying heights and deep chasms, or perhaps a tornado seen from above.

Matthias Düwel: SpinDrift

“We have arrived at a unique point in time when production and consumption are simultaneous” explains Düwel. “No sooner is a thing brand new, it is used up, dispensable — and not just things but places and people too.” Spindrift is defined as the spray blown off of a cresting wave. The ocean metaphor comes fully home in these paintings, as the surging swells depict nothing that could be designated “land.” The works are executed in a range of sizes and media, yet all contribute to a unified vision, a warning of a cyclone we don’t fully notice, though we’re right at the eye of the storm.

See for yourself at Mirus Gallery, 540 Howard Street, San Francisco, through November 16th.