Striking Beauty in the Work of Joe Sinness

October 11, 2013

Joe Sinness creates luxuriant and vibrant colored pencil drawings that include anything between antiques to erotica figures to organic shapes and fruits.

I am interested in how objects and people seeking fame become consumable products, a paradox that sees their artistic endeavors pursuing immortality become disposable and commodified. My imagery and subjects are first looted and then loved… In mining these subjects and devotedly recasting them together in shrine-like still lifes, they are given new life in narratives which mirror their subject’s original aspiration and desire for fame and immortality.”- Joe Sinness

“Visually the three pieces are immediately vibrant and striking. They are quiet, but not modest, portraying three ambiguously amorphic shapes formed with some kind of reflective gold material. The eye follows not just the outline of the shapes, attempting to make meaning of them, but follows soft curves and foil folds over bits of sporadic color. When asked to explain what it is that is being portrayed in 'Shining Indiscretions,' Sinness explains of his latest pieces, 'During this period, I’d been thinking (I’ll admit a bit comically) about the idea of queer spirits and the forms that they would take.  I experimented with forms and materials that were both fabulous and mercurial — and the gold lamé was an obvious match.' This kind of transfiguration of a famous (often queer-culture based) source is not unusual in his work. His other works in Enough portray screen and stage stars, queer icons, and online erotica submitters, combining them with antique or thrift store items, flowers and jewels to create carefully constructed tableaus. There are several differences between these earlier works and his triptych, however, that are almost immediately visible.

Sinness says his titles generally come after the work is completed, and that the triptych’s name is a reference to a Tennessee Williams quote, ‘All good art is an indiscretion.’ He continues, ‘I find truth in the quote, humor in the attempt to create something “good,” and so the title is a little oxymoronic.’ Tennessee Williams was the famous playwright responsible for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Williams was also famously flamboyant as well as being open about his homosexuality later in his life, and remains an icon for many gay artists because of his courage in bringing taboo themes to the stage. Sinness explains, 'Towards the end of last year I’d been a little obsessed with Tennessee Williams — reading his short stories, memoirs, watching hollywood productions of his plays — I even tried to sneak into his former home on a recent trip to New Orleans, but it is now a private residence.' Although Sinness does not specify who the ‘fabulous ghosts’ are in his Shining Indiscretions, it is not a stretch to believe that they represent people like Tennessee Williams — those whose lives may have been a struggle but whose memories live on because of their genius and their vibrant spirits. This is the triumph in Sinness’ series — a combination of form and meaning, drawing in a viewer with a skillful rendering and then allowing them to interpret significance from the fragile beauty represented by his gold lamé spirits.”

(via L’étoile Magazine)