Skewville’s latest exhibit Playground Tactics at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco reads as owner’s manual for the anarchist arts fan. Here dissent is given room to run and stretch, allowing a seemingly obvious exhibit to take on a new identity. Skewville, made up of Brooklyn-based twin brothers Ad and Droo, have dreamed up a world more commonly found in children’s imaginations where their masterpieces are often hidden away, scribbled on the sides of loose paper and textbooks. The irony is that the works are oddly grown up, yet far outside the mainstream. In this exhibit, the outside has found a way indoors, and the protest is framed.

Skewville’s success owes a great deal of gratitude to a seemingly unlikely set of forbearers, that could include everything from Rube Goldberg’s mad genius machines to Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers, and long-forgotten toys. These references provide the twins with a blueprint but for living.

Their images are closer to maps, otherwise alternative views of cityscapes, and dystopian postcards of New York City. Some use buildings as chess pawns, in which figurative characters lift buildings and trucks, and use drawn pencils to complete highway lines. Other pieces are modified super-remote controls or receivers, where human characteristics compete with knobs and antennae. It’s an immersive experience—imagine signage made from bent metal tubing with illustrating crazed arrows to lead the way.

One things is certain: This show is not a typical gallery experience. Playground Tactics owes its name to its unlikely assortment of Mad Max-style playground equipment, including a seesaw decorated with barbed wire, tire-made swing sets, merry go round, and shopping carts re-envisioned as mini bobsleds.

If during your visit to White Walls gallery, you find yourself outside your comfort zone, unaccustomed to such an exhibit; and at the same time wanting to play or create your own artwork from discarded materials, then you’ve discovered the work of twin brothers Skewville.

With this exhibition, White Walls Gallery has tipped its curatorial hat to gallery director Tova Lobatz. If Playground Tactics is any indication of her future, we can continue to expect great and unexpected things.

Skewville’s Playground Tactics is on view until February 4, 2012 at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco.

– Review by Adam Rozan with photos by Michael Cuffe for Warholian

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