1,100 watts of light
Charles Dee Mitchell Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Through Sept 8: David Szafranski pulls off two not inconsiderable feats for an artist in his mid-20s. He manages to be cynical without being flip, and he invokes a childhood spent in the '60s without being coy.

N No 0 Gallery

On the political and sexual themes that run through his current show at N No. 0 Gallery, 1907 Marilla, Szafranski has nothing to offer in the way of good news. An American flag, immersed in a jar of bleach, is slowly fading to white. (Last week it was at the light blue and orange stage.) In his prints and collages, Szafranski juxtaposes textbook illustrations of sexual anatomy with cutaway illustrations of plumbing. One nude male is diagrammatically presented with insets that show the wonders of his insides. From his brain comes an inane, sexy cartoon; in his stomach is the gaping, skeletal head of a bird; and, heavy industrial chains compose his legs.

Szafranski places many of his images against a background composed of unfired strips of ammunition used in cap guns. This would seem to place the work in the realm of pre-adolescent fantasy, but it also suggests that the subject matter is literally explosive. Szafranski's references to plumbing and his use of shiny, galvanized gutter segments for frames succeeds in keeping the discussion on a mildly unpleasant, excretory level.

At times, Szafranski is blunt in his directions, but at other times his approach is so oblique the pieces remain indecipherable. The Cause of Skirts is an elegant contructions of guttering, mattress ticking, fluorescent lights and a small jalousie window. I had the piece explained to me in detail, and I still don't get it. The best piece in the show is also the least "topically" oriented. Specification Grade Device extrudes from a single socket on the wall into a coiling mass of 1,100 watt bulbs. The cheery glow and radiant heat given off by its 1,100 watts of electricity cannot dispel its vaguely cancerous appearance.