The less S.W. Dinge sees his hand in a painting, the more he’s intrigued by it.
From May 20 through June 25, OneWay Gallery presents a solo show of work that announces Dinge’s entre into mid-career. The show’s title, “Hide Your Idols,” nods to the artist’s active rebellion from his earliest inspirations.
“I’ve always been drawn to the randomness of the Dadaists,” Dinge says. “I’ve incorporated that into my work over the years. Marcel Duchamp, Louis Aragan — these people were intriguing the shit out of me, but it’s hard to hide your idols.”
Dinge, who studied at SUNY Oneonta, set out to be a journalist. But after a chance drawing class, he honed his focus on art, using visual journals to document his daily experiences.
“When I got out of college, I made some paintings, but you’re not a real artist unless you do the work — unless you explore your own way of creating. So I decided to put in the time and see where it leads me,” he says.
Dinge, who grew up on a farm in upstate New York, landed in Rhode Island with a group of friends and began creating large-scale paintings and collages.
“There was a time when I would include a lot of words in my work, which was a safety net for me,” he says, noting a text-heavy solo show at Providence’s Yellow Peril Gallery in 2013. “I came to a point where I decided to take that element out of it. I then went from relying on words to relying on color.”
The career-defining work in “Hide Your Idols” leaves more to chance than his previous art, yet without abandoning deliberation and strategy. “I still pace for hours before I start something,” Dinge says. “The first mark can make or break the entire thing.”
The process begins with several layers of paint poured onto canvas, which is propped from underneath with utensils of varying sizes. Over a span of several hours, the weight of the paint pushes onto the canvas, settling in unusual places. The result is a spilled look absent of discernable brush strokes.
“I have definitely gotten up in the middle of the night to make sure it is where it should be,” he says. “The action part of the painting is relatively limited.”
These colorful, energetic abstractions range in size, but most of the work is small in scale — a departure for the artist. “I’m used to working on canvases larger than me, but to fit my brain into eighteen- by twenty-four inches, I wanted to paint it as I would a six-foot canvas in terms of intensity,” he says.
Dinge admits that he’s “always been intimidated by color,” but in “Hide Your Idols” he abandons apprehension and pours multiple shades on each canvas, the hues feeding off each other. And when the work is done, it’s done.
“I immediately get it out of my sight,” he says. “The moment has passed. That way, they each stand as their own brief snippet of my time.”
The titles of the work capture the fleeting moments of their making. “The Decision of Mr. Waits,” which features blots of yellow, blue and red, pays homage to one of Dinge’s favorite musicians. “The Following Day,” which has a more frenetic energy, evokes “the day after some event,” Dinge says. “It could be good; it could be bad. The following day is when everything settles in.”
“Hide Your Idols” runs from May 20 to June 25. The public is invited to an opening reception on May 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and by appointment. OneWay Gallery, 140 Boon St., Narragansett, 401-792-8800, onewaygallery.com