Wash Your Hands, by Lois Keller
Oil on cotton paper 12"x9", July 2020
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Painting Series: THE STATE OF OUR SINK
On a 2009 blog post we found while going down one of the gazillion e-rabbit holes, we discovered a painting by Lucian Freud that we’ve never seen before: Two Japanese Wrestlers by a Sink. The blog where we found the image gathers pieces that the author (painter Mike Newton) has physically seen and that invited him to think about how melancholic moments have been translated in visual art.
In true Freudian (the artist) fashion, the extraordinary painting took five years to complete from start to finish, and it was painted from life, from 1983 to 1987.
At the time of the painting series (July 2020), there was a sense of contemplative isolation, quietness, introspection, perhaps an example of what a reclusive state of mind may have felt like, hence the title of the collection, The State of our Sink, with a side wink of the dramatic State of our Union during that time.
We use sinks every day to wash, hands or pots, fumbling stuff in them regularly, mindlessly, throughout the day, but we have not thought so much about how intertwined their existence and presence and function are with our day-to-day quarantine life.
For starters, we believe sinks are sexy. There is erotic energy that perhaps runs in the subconscious, but it’s hard to deny. We’re thinking about faucet shape-association, the feel and look of enameled surfaces, sinuous vessel-like forms, orifices, hissing noises, fluids. No wonder sinks have been subjects in many modern paintings. If we were not given the title of the Lucian Freud painting, we would see two nude male figures featured in the same scene, facing each other, close, on top of two faucets, running. Two and two, side by side, engaged. Let’s leave it there.
We also believe sinks have religious connotations since we use them for rituals, for cleansing, as a pause to muse about existential things. They have an altar-like presence that invokes an ethos of intimate sacredness. Google baptismal fonts to view exhibit A.
Finally, sinks are part of that inventory of the mundane that sets the stage for us to perform our unremarkable daily routines. The Kitchen Sink Painters, a group of artists in the UK from the mid 20th century, used sinks as painting subjects to celebrate the everyday life of ordinary people, or rather as a sociopolitical account of the disheartening reality of those invisible to the policymakers of the time.
The erotic, the religious, the sociopolitical: who knew sinks carried so much.
- Signed by artist
- This painting is in Los Angeles.
- Buyer covers packing and shipping fees: $15 if it ships within the US. $25 if it ships internationally.