What this series illustrates about painting as a language
Because these paintings come from a fluent realization about what paint can say well, the idea is that these images look better in paint than they do in real life or in photographs.
It occurs to me that one of the ways in which a painter chooses subject matter is premised on the intuitive knowledge of when and how paint can communicate more beautifully than reality itself or photography. This comes after developing some level of intuitive fluency with the medium. This is not a conceptual or strategic kind of knowledge.
This opposes the notion that painting is dead or irrelevant in modern times.
The idea that painting (or any form of creative communication) is irrelevant or outdated is based on the assumption that artistic forms themselves contain relevancy to time and place. But this does not consider the fact that mediums, like languages, are alive and relevant precisely because of the fluency that artists have with them. It is the fluent use of the medium that makes it relevant.
What this illustrates about the role of photographic reference
Why would you use a photograph as a reference? This question strikes at the heart of paint’s unique advantage over photography: to render images over the course of time constructed without machinery.
Photo references are not a new practice among painters. Francis Bacon used photos as references. Among many painters, it is considered that the use of photos for reference provides an undo credence to photographic knowledge.
But this subject matter really needs to be done through photographic reference. Practically, it would be tedious to return to the head-on perspective of the sink constantly. And, given that these paintings take at least 2-5 weeks each, at some point, I have to load the dishwasher.
What these paintings “mean”
They don’t really mean anything in an absolute sense. Though, there are some traditions that they are founded in. In a sense, they are a kind of natural still life. For the most part, they are un-posed. Though I occasionally add or remove an item on purpose if I think it will help the composition.
They are in line with the reality show tendency of this day and age. You are, after all, really seeing the inside of my sink.
There is also a challenge to the idea that a beautiful painting must be of something beautiful. Simultaneously, there is the suggestion that a mess, something we wish would go away (like dishes in the sink), could be beautiful.
How Symphonies In the Sink came about
The idea to paint the Symphonies In the Sink came to me, on a conscious level, seemingly suddenly. But the previous four years of painting informed that sudden realization.
Paint is a language. And I realized that what I had been doing over the previous four years was similar to the process of language acquisition. I was realizing how certain features of the language of paint can be used to communicate ideas. At some point, how to use color to represent what is seen becomes as fluid a process as using words to get across ideas.
What we see is an idea and the paint is a medium to portray that idea.
The use of color becomes such a custom in a painter’s thinking that the idea of what would be beautiful in paint is gently resting in a painter’s conscious.
Without strategizing or thinking about it, as I went to the sink one day in November of 2018 to add another item to what was already there, I realized how beautiful the colors would be if told through paint.
It’s like a poet who, though fluent in two languages, knows intuitively which language to choose for which poem.
Why the title Symphonies In the Sink?
I believe that paintings can provide a synesthetic experience. We can have other senses conjured when we view a painting. In some ways, you can imagine what this sink actually sounds like as you place a dish in it. And there is also a visual movement to the paintings that seems musical. It’s also a playful name suggesting that, maybe, we shouldn’t take messes too seriously.