Patrick Dintino's "Bubble Yum"

Patrick Dintino has created an artistic lens through which he looks at everything that interests him: consumer culture, news media, karma, advertising, endangered species, and now, leisure. The products of his process are mesmerizing spectrum paintings. He’s been making them for over ten years, and in his mind, he’s just begun. “I’m very much interested in color codes and how we react,” he explains. Every one of Dintino’s paintings features a series of vertical bands of various widths and colors; each strip blends into the next, forming hazy boundaries. From afar the works look airbrushed. They are not. Each is made by hand with a house-painting brush. “If you look close,” he says, “you’ll see brush marks, hair and dirt in there. I want these to challenge people about the idea or concept of painting.” The physical process of making the work is straightforward. “I go up and down, up and down until the colors blend.”

Dintino will research an idea for weeks or months before he commits it to canvas. “I get imagery from the Internet,” he says, pointing to a recent work, which will appear in his upcoming solo exhibition at San Francisco’s Andrea Schwartz Gallery. “I’ll have a concept—for this one I searched for ‘vacation’—and see what images pop up. I’ll sift through thousands of images and see what color vibrations speak to me.” Dintino notes that once a painting is started, he finishes it in one sitting. “I’m a control person,” he explains, “but in this type of painting, you can’t control; it’s a forced spontaneity. There is difficulty in combining colors, but I like that tension, that idea of a certain amount of clash. If it’s comfortable, then it becomes predictable. I want it to be a bit uncomfortable but beautiful at the same time.”

Though abstract, Dintino’s spectrum paintings each feature a distinct rhythm and narrative—a melody, he states. (He used to be a full-time musician.) And even though there is an engaging dis-ease in these works, they are meditative.

Dintino grew up in the Bay Area. He earned his undergrad and master’s degrees at California College of the Arts, where he now teaches painting. He began his artistic explorations in the Funk art tradition, turning trash into sculpture. This evolved into collage work, which he still does today. His material is mostly packaging or junk mail. “I like the idea that it’s delivered to my house,” he says with a mischievous smile. “I’m playing with that idea of information that’s delivered. I like taking information that’s supposed to go into the mind and distorting it, changing it and reflecting it back on itself.”

In its minimalist approach, Dintino’s work falls outside of current fashion. Although he doesn’t align himself in particular with any of his contemporaries, he notes having been influenced by Op art painters such as Bridget Riley, color field artists, à la Mark Rothko, and perceptualists, such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell. As is, Dintino’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. He was a 2002 SECA finalist, and is up again for the award this year; he was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2004. Working out of his converted garage studio at his El Cerrito home, Dintino is free to clear his mind and mull over what lies behind the various tones, hues, and images we’re bombarded with. “I am distorting people’s views with these spectrum paintings, their perception of things,” he says. “That’s what’s driving this work.”

Patrick Dintino’s work will be featured in an upcoming solo show at Andrea Schwartz Gallery, in San Francisco, from June 16 – July 30, 2010.

This profile appears in the May/June issue of art, ltd magazine.

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