This June, Daniel Sinsel presents a group of new and recent works – encompassing painting, assemblage and sculpture – marking his sixth solo exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ. Throughout the body of work, Sinsel mediates conventional notions of flatness and spatial tension, articulating unresolved scenographies that teeter on the threshold between illusion and reality. Meticulously rendered in alluring, near psychedelic fields of colour, the imagery is invested with a built-in tension of desire and restraint, through which Sinsel probes the manifold, often concealed narratives of queer experience.
Trompe-l'œil objects, disappearing bodies, nutshells, almandine garnets, silk and ribbon form part of a slowly expanding repertoire of symbols and symbolic objects deployed within Sinsel’s practice in order to reveal the covert language of queer desire, the erotics of space, and objecthood. Winding ribbon becomes a formal and decorative device, its undulating fluid form dually sensual and bearing undercurrents of a more psychologically menacing, ensnaring atmosphere. Elsewhere the body is often referred to in its absence – either in the incongruous presence of ears, feet and near-anthropomorphous vegetables (an aubergine moon or a succulent persimmon) or through the close attention given to the materiality of objects, investing them with a sensory, fetishistic presence.
In places, the canvases are adorned with small-scale objects – raw, distinctly tactile elements that are impishly ornamental and suggestive. In one work, silk ribbons collide with neatly assembled shards of glass. In another, hazelnut shells punctuate the surface with braided loops of string. Nutshells, garnets and glass roundels similarly evoke an encoded system of meaning, recalling shrine-like reliefs or votive objects. Set in dialogue with the tautly rendered painted surfaces, the assemblages articulate a metaphysical boundary between representation and reality, investing their liminal spaces with an understated tension or psychological charge.
By contrast to the clearly defined aesthetic, Sinsel does not begin with a premeditated plan. Instead working intuitively, he adds and removes elements over the course of the painting process. In parallel with this approach, the works reflect an ongoing exploration of conventional realism and chance encounter. Throughout, a dreamlike mood of time suspended, or in flux, prevails. Objects are envisaged suspended against abstract sunset hues, evoking the meditative transitions of dawn and twilight.
Minimal architectural adornments act as motifs that frame – and partly veil – internal scenes within; or in the case of the bronze sculptures, recede into an expectant void. In these bronzes, the aleatory, erotic and absurd coalesce as bodily forms protrude from tilted chocolate bar frames, playfully resembling the perspective grid employed by Renaissance masters. Likewise, the paintings’ compositions tilt seamlessly. Their incongruous yet precisely observed surface geometries, and trapezoid structures, recall the classical pursuit of verisimilitude and at the same time destabilise this convention; mirroring Sinsel’s ongoing exploration of space, illusion and its evocative potential.
Daniel Sinsel (b. 1976, Munich) graduated with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art (2004) following a BA in Painting from Chelsea College of Art and Design (2002), both London. Sinsel has exhibited internationally and his work has been included in Thanks for the apples, Falmouth Art Gallery, Falmouth (2021); Means of Escape, Kunsthaus Erfurt, Erfurt (2021); Mixing It Up: Painting Today, Hayward Gallery, London (2021); ISelf Collection: The Upset Bucket, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2017); Disobedient Bodies: J.W. Anderson at the Hepworth Wakefield, The Hepworth Wakefield (2017); British Art Show 8, Inverleith House, Edinburgh, travelling to multiple institutions across the UK (2016-2017); Making & Unmaking, curated by Duro Olowu, Camden Arts Centre, London (2016); MIRRORCITY: 23 London Artists, Hayward Gallery, London (2014); Somewhat Abstract: Selections from the Arts Council Collection, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2014); Jerwood Contemporary Painters, Jerwood Space, London (2010); Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation Collection of Contemporary Drawing, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009); Beck’s Futures, ICA, London (2006). A publication was produced to accompany his solo exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, London in 2011.