Sometimes When We Touch,
INVISIBLE-EXPORTS is pleased to present, Sometimes When We Touch, a solo exhibition of new work by Stephen Irwin.
* * *
Stephen Irwin is a chaste fantasist and an erotic iconoclast, remaking the sacred naïve
pornography of his adolescence into a shifting representation of sexuality that is not simply a
catalog of ready-made alternatives but a redefined and fanciful altered state.
Irwin can be seen as something of an appropriation artist who doesn’t restrict himself to
merely appropriating, a found-object artist for whom the finding is only half the fun. Selecting
pages from vintage pornography, Irwin undoes the lusty plastic polish of the magazine, rubbing
out the sheen and often much of the image itself, isolating erogenous zones of special interest
with the focus of a loving eye. Through a variety of rugged and astringent processes, he softens
the blunt sexuality of the found image, abstracting the depicted scene into a vision far more
ephemeral and imaginative, censoring much of what might have been shocking about the image in its original form and invoking instead a more suggestive and expansive erotic landscape of tenderness and perversion, intimacy and lust, chastity and lasciviousness.
Irwin’s work represents a reduction of these pornographic pages to their most essential forms,
and the intimate works conduct a kind of discreet dialogue with art history, at once evocative
of Old Master sketches, anatomy studies, quiet portraits of loved ones, and erotic art. He works
from images “that were created with little aesthetic regard, for prurient interest alone, to be
used and then disposed of,” he says, and which yet exhibit in his hands all of the suggestive
power of the finest and most elevated draftsmanship.
Stephen Irwin lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky. His work has been exhibited at the New
Center for Contemporary Art, Louisville, KY; The Speed Museum in Louisville, KY; and DePauw
University. His work has appeared in Butt Magazine and Art Papers, and is in the collections of
the Speed Museum and 21c Museum, both in Louisville, KY.