Photos: Andreas Stuckenschneider


12th February - 19th March 2016



DIRECT ART GALLERY – outsider & more opens its exhibition Nº 8 as part of the „Duesseldorf Photo Weekend 2016“, an event which includes the participation of numerous other renowned galleries, museums and art institutions in Dusseldorf. As part of this weekend the DIRECT ART GALLERY presents works by Douglas Sheran and Torsten Holzapfel.


Douglas Sheran was born in California in 1941 and currently lives and works in San Francisco. His artwork is the result of an intense preoccupation with the human figure, not only in regard to its physical attributes but also with an interest as to what these external characteristics can reveal. The series on show during the “Duesseldorf Photo Weekend” illustrates Sheran‘s play with human forms and his ability to make these forms uncover their own interiority, rather than simply display their exterior appearances. Sheran employs the method of overpainting, shunning the commercial approach of advertising photography. With a few broad and gestural brushstrokes he gives movement to his glossy models, allowing them to transcend the body‘s physical nature. Although the faces of his photographs are partly or fully painted over and the physiognomy of the captured models is barely visible, the newly-formed subjects nevertheless demonstrate their individual characteristics. Sheran does not weigh himself down with a detailed composition of surfaces, but rather defines a being‘s inner nature with a few distinctive strokes. His expressive and spontaneous brushwork on paper causes the models to attain an abstraction that conceals the ideal image of beauty with its commercial purpose. Sheran creates his subjects with a movement and expression that is revelatory of the subjects‘ interiority. The beholder feels an immediate proximity to this combination of photographic detail and emphasis placed on the face; a nearly animistic sensation of life as breath can result from these works.


Torsten Holzapfel‘s works also speak with immediacy. However, Holzapfel does not attempt to deconstruct staged photography, but rather concentrates on the opposite: the human self as staged. Holzapfel, born in 1965 and currently working in Berlin, transfers photographs and digital collages onto large-scale canvases, layering different slices on top of each other and painting over several areas with acrylic colors. In Holzapfel‘s self-portraits the largely naked bodies are isolated from their original surroundings and placed in front of abstract yet associative middle grounds and backgrounds.


Deprived of its concrete context, the body becomes defined by its staging on the canvas. For example, Holzapfel often uses poses that are evocative of Mapplethorpe‘s eroticism. The work „Ich in Bad“ in particular provides a self-portrait in this type of pose. The view in profile shows the artist with pulled-up legs and bent arms. Paths of light and shadow direct the viewer‘s attention to the shoulders, torso, buttocks and legs rather than to the artist‘s face. However, instead of accentuating the aesthetically muscle-defined body, Holzapfel rather highlights his own corporeality. Despite the fact that the act is posed, Holzapfel succeeds in conveying an immediate depiction of a staged self-portrait.





DIRECT ART GALLERY is a non-profit gallery with the aim to support artists with a mental or psychological handicap. The gallery is run by the foundation ‘Aktion-Kunst-Stiftung’ and is located in the center of the well-known museums and galleries of Düsseldorf. In addition to the presentation of classical positions on Outsider Art, the gallery also focuses on young, upcoming contemporary artists.