I’m happy to share the work of Providence, RI-based artist S.W. Dinge today. (As an aside, and although not included here, I was amused by his Stop Sign Project from a few years ago, an intervention on Providence stop signs.) Dinge’s work also draws on early 20th century modernist influences, often using unprimed canvas and found materials to create layered, abstract compositions that are still just rough enough around the edges. His recent drawings, which utilize text-like marks, invite the viewer to try to decode a message — the message, perhaps, being that there is no message except that of layers of marks, nodding to a tradition of artist mark-making that goes back to humanity’s earliest days.
Can you tell me a bit about your practice? You mention in your statement that you have started moving from figurative work into abstraction — why the shift?
While I was never really a painter of things like, maybe a photorealist painter would be, I would rely on forms and shapes that resembled objects or things or even existed between two things, perhaps. I felt that I had stagnated with this method and I made a conscious choice to stop trying to paint ‘something’ and start trying to paint ‘nothing’. I have found it to be much more challenging but equally rewarding as an artist.
You also seem interested in the use of text lately, but it is cryptic and often illegible; where do you derive these ideas from?
As far as the text goes, I don’t know. I started college as a journalism major with thoughts of working for newspapers, so maybe a little is left over from that. I became an art major part way through college when I took a drawing course and it really struck a nerve. I haven’t looked back since. I have, though, always been intrigued by the written word. In particularly, the visual elements of languages that I am unable to read. I enjoy combining color and other visual elements with the human brain’s desire to decode illegible text. My ‘Flushing the System’ series really played on those elements.
What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of pursuing a career as an artist?
I still find that the most difficult part of being an artist is starting something new. The intimidation of the blank canvas. It’s always there, every time no matter how many paintings or drawings that I do. The first mark always seems to be the most difficult. I will pace in front of a canvas for hours, and have even done it for days, before convincing myself to make the first mark. Once I start, I think to myself, I’m going to get right to it next time. And then of course I do the same thing.
Who or what are some your major influences, whether artistically or professionally, etc?
If I had to name artistic people who are an influence on me I would have to name musicians instead of visual artists. Music is a very vital part of my creative process. It can help influence mood which in turn can influence color and line. While I listen to many different types of music, the mainstays are Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen. They are the beacons. Visual artists that have moved me are too many to mention. So often I have seen work in galleries that really pulled me in and inspired me, but seldom does the name stick. I should work on that.
In New York City the artist’s work can be seen through the Road Gallery, by appointment with Mr. Neil Jacobs. It can also be seen year round at One Way Gallery in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Find more information or images at swdinge.com.
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