Allan Ludwig: Unforgotten Realms 

Through Dec. 22 @ House Gallery

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Dungeons & Dragons shaped the way Allan Ludwig thinks and how he creates art. The BYU adjunct professor began playing the fantasy role-playing game in adolescence. “I like how involved your imagination is with it, but there’s also structure. You can create something new out of the game’s boundaries,” Ludwig says.

That thinking filters into his creative process: art as a game. “All my work is very planned out. I’m interested in coming up with its rules beforehand, then I execute it,” he says.

Unforgotten Realms is D&D-meets-modernism, combining pop-culture art and high-brow art and arriving somewhere in between, he says. However, neither style is overt. Absent are D&D-style fantasy drawings—like you’d find in the handbook—as Ludwig investigates modernistic ideals without being a modernist.

Subtle elements of the game appear in these pieces, which represent Ludwig’s most recent body of work. The prominent diamond shape of “Orange KN Clone” is influenced by the game’s polyhedral dice (used to resolve random events). “Black Octagon Level” is doubly interesting: Its sculptural element, a staff, protrudes from the wall, altering the viewer’s direction of travel—and alluding to a staff’s magical capabilities, Ludwig says.

Additionally, D&D’s dungeons and characters have levels, be they strength or difficulty; Ludwig has explored this concept through lines of tape. The simple blue-on-white brick pattern of “BRCK” (pictured) references a dungeon’s interior, while offering a commentary on how art is viewed. Ludwig says, “Paintings are often ‘windows,’ and this confronts you with a dead end.”

Allan Ludwig: Unforgotten Realms @ House Gallery, 29 E. 400 South, 801-910-1736, HouseGallerySLC.com, Wednesdays-Sundays through Dec. 22, free. HouseGallerySLC.com

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