“I was having more fun building worlds than blowing them up,” the video-game designer Will Wright explained in 2012. Wright had been making shoot-em-up games, but he wanted players to explore their creative sides with his next series, which eventually became the wildly popular life-simulation game, The Sims. Now in its fourth update, the series has vastly broadened the choices for its gamers: after creating a Sim, you can send this virtual person to college, buy him or her a pet, have them flirt, or even run for public office. Given the exciting options awaiting these digitized selves, it’s not surprising that many people turned to their Sims for comfort during lockdown. The artist Pieter Schoolwerth drew inspiration from his playtime, the results of which are on view in his first solo exhibition. Screen grabs of scenes show socializing, an orgy, a man in labor. Schoolwerth mixes the digital images into his paintings, distorting their lifelikeness to point up the alienated quality of simulated living, and of lockdown in general. —C.J.F.
Petzel Gallery 456 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011 Get Directions »