Indiscriminate Sincerity

Patrick Wilkins

January 31 - April 2021
Viewable by appointment

Extase is pleased to present “Indiscriminate Sincerity,” a solo exhibition of new and recent work by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Patrick Wilkins. The show is comprised of four oil paintings, 16 ceramic sausages donning carved, highly expressive faces, and a suite of small-scale mixed media paintings of animated caricatures on thick wooden blocks. 

“Indiscriminate Sincerity” is a show of visages – many twisted in outlandish, exaggerated, and often comedic expressions. Some of the faces, or heads, are connected to a body whereas others, like Untitled (Self-Portrait), float in the space that is the raw canvas. The faces are detailed, vibrantly colored, and representational, but they also possess attributes that are clearly from the imagination. 

The occupants of the four paintings in “Indiscriminate Sincerity” share elongated, tubular, seemingly swinging noses that meet their sculptural counterpart with the ceramic sausages. The weighty sausages, which the viewer is encouraged to pick up and hold, reference the artist’s past vocation as a Whole Foods butcher. The sculptures of encased meat are anthropomorphized by the inclusion of their intricately engraved expressions. Some of the sausages seem to shriek, mouths agape, revealing sets of glimmering, jagged teeth. Others house tongues that languidly topple from their lips. In these pieces, eyes bulge and droop, tongues taunt, but noses – for the most part – remain consistently uniform in their average-looking shapes. The sausage motif is one that Wilkins has incorporated in his painting and drawing practice for years, but “Indiscriminate Sincerity” denotes the first time this symbol strays from the flat plane into the three-dimensional. 

The large paintings in this exhibition are tactile in nature. Projection, for example, is a trompe l'oeil painting where the illusion is given that a bodyless head’s pointed tongue is lunging from the canvas. The genderless head emerges from a hole in the checkered floor, eyes protruding from their sockets in true cartoon-like fashion. In fact, many of Wilkins’ works effuse the iconography of cartoons, comics, and video games. 

In Untitled (Self-Portrait), a tongue and nose take the same form on a clownish face. Depending on which the viewer hones in on, the part seems to swing back and forth like a pendulum, connoting movement. When speaking with the artist, we discussed the inspiration he derives from the motion blur of old Looney Tune and Disney cartoons. On the opposite end of this spectrum is perhaps the Futurist movement. One cannot look at Untitled (Self-Portrait) without being reminded of Futurism, an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. 

One of the most seminal and iconic works of this movement (as well as within the art historical canon) – which emphasized modernity, technology, velocity, machinery, industrial progress, and also violence – is Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (Dinamismo di un cane al guinzaglio) by Giacomo Balla, from 1912. This painting was groundbreaking in its depiction of the movement of a woman and her dog walking, demonstrated through blurred and repetitive line. Balla was influenced by the chronophotographic studies of the 1880s, pioneered by scientist Étienne-Jules Marey. For this process, a chronophotographic gun would capture 12 consecutive frames a second of an animal in motion, allowing the person viewing the image to understand the breakdown of subtle movements typically not available to the naked eye. Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash transferred this process from the photograph to the canvas. Ironically, when one keeps “Indiscriminate Sincerity” in mind, art critic Tom Lubbock described the dog in Balla’s painting as a “twee prim sausage dog.” 

    Wilkins’ works are dynamic in their ability to conjure memories of American cartoons and a radical 19th century photographic technique simultaneously. His paintings and sculptures are brazen and depraved, funny and endearing, and perhaps even a bit sincere if one looks long enough. 

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Patrick Wilkins is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist born in Wiesbaden, Germany (1987) and raised in Elkhart, Indiana. He holds an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2017) and a BA from Purdue University (2012). Wilkins has a forthcoming solo show at Northwestern University’s Dittmar Gallery slated to open later this year. His work has been exhibited at Leon Gallery (Denver), Tchotchke Gallery (New York), Heaven Gallery (Chicago), Comfort Station (Chicago), and the Jewelry Library (New York), among others. 

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