Daniel Sinsel’s 2012 exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ contains a new body of work constituted from a broad range of materials including glass, raw and woven linen, nutshells, carved wood, and painting on linen. Harnessing elements of painting, sculpture and textiles, the works are united by an emphasis on handcraft and traditional materials, looking back to medieval artisanal practices in northern Europe. They simultaneously mount a post-minimalist exploration of objecthood, shape and illusion.
In four large textile works, Sinsel has woven custom-made linen tape onto stretchers, the interlocking strips forming expansive grids or, in one instance, a diagonal pattern. These linen supports have been variously pigmented with paint or tar, or left bare to profess their materiality in the style of the unadorned materials of arte povera. At the same time, Sinsel has punctured and punctuated each one with small, seemingly symbolic objects. In three works, hazelnut shells have been embedded in the fabric to produce a relief of random bumps or nodules. Handblown glass disks have been sewn into the raw fabric at widening intervals; while elsewhere letters carved from ebony in a Gothic Fraktur script have been appended to the material, subtly underlining the etymological link between “text” and “textile”. In a cut paper work, Sinsel uses the same antique script to spell his name, foregrounding the interplay of script and description.
Into the surface of a work covered in tar, Sinsel has implanted clay fingers. These appear to protrude from (or perhaps recede into) the viscous and tactile surface, apparently playing upon the viewer’s latent urge to feel the artwork. Their beckoning, surreally disembodied forms echo other bodily fragments populating Sinsel’s paintings and sculptures. They moreover underscore the corporeal and even erotic subtexts present in all his examinations of shape, surface and texture: the ebony letters ‘a’ and ‘o’ are for instance akin to orifices, mimicking the shape of the mouth when it pronounces them. Mirroring the fingers, a mass of linen hang from the cadmium red surface of another work, spilling out and looping back in the style of warp and weft, or some kind of prolapsed matter.
This work recreates in sculptural form the floating, meandering ribbons which appear in Sinsel’s trompe l’oeil oil paintings. These employ parallelogram-shaped canvases which govern the shapes of the recessive latticework backdrops depicted within them – parallels to the rigid architecture of the Fraktur font. As with the textile piece, the painted floating ribbons occasionally appear improbably truncated – suddenly terminating where they meet the backdrops, while at other points furling around them with almost Baroque dynamism and complexity. Again, a linguistic metaphor resides within the contrasting shapes – the rigid latticework and fluid ribbon suggesting hard consonants in contrast to flowing vowels.
In a series of smaller works, Sinsel has again used glass disks reminiscent of traditional ‘bullseye windows’ or bottle bottoms or boiled sweets – inserting them between layers of coarse raw linen, or sewing them onto woven linen tape covered in skin-coloured casein, which has been artificially distressed by candle soot. The contrast between the raw fabric and these jewel-like ‘nipples’, articulates some of the fundamental oppostions in Sinsel’s latest works – between abstract and bodily shapes, opacity and transparency, concealment and revelation.
Daniel Sinsel (b. 1976, Germany) lives and works in London. He received his BA in painting from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2002, and his MFA in painting from the Royal College of Art in 2004. He has exhibited internationally with recent solo exhibitions including those at the Chisenhale Gallery, London (2011), Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp (2011), Galerie Micky Schubert, Berlin (2009) and Sadie Coles HQ, London (2009). Recent group exhibitions include CLOUD, Foxy Production, New York (2011), Jerwood Contemporary Painters, Jerwood Space, London (2010), The Concrete Show, Galeria Franco Noero, Turin (2010), Nus, Nudes, Galeria Fortes Vilaca, Sao Paulo (2009), and Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation Collection of Contemporary Drawing, MoMA, New York (2009). A monograph was published on Sinsel’s work by Sadie Coles HQ and Mousse Publishing in 2011.