Reuben Sinha is an artist exploring mediums and techniques such as painting and sculpting, driven by an underlying desire to transcend the ephemeral nature of subjective interpretations. Sinha’s journey, from the vibrant streets of India to the bustling heart of New York City, paints a narrative of memory, migration, and cultural melding. As a child, Sinha was enchanted by the rich hues and hands-on craftsmanship of street artisans in India. These early impressions profoundly influenced his artistic endeavors. Through raw materials like local beeswax and wood panels, Sinha's encaustic works are a luminous exploration of color, notably his series meditating on the hue 'brown' — a response to societal biases and his cultural reconciliation.
In our conversation, Sinha delves deeper into his personal and artistic evolution, reflecting on the cultural influences of his past and his vision for the future. Sinha’s commitment to bridging cultures through art is unwavering. Join us as we uncover the layers behind Sinha's compelling works and his continuous journey of self-discovery.
Read on to learn more in this exclusive interview with Reuben Sinha:
Breathing Without Fear, 2022 - Ceramics and Steel, 67x24in
In using color and clay to recreate "primitive spaces," which colors resonate most with specific memories or emotions?
I like working with colors of the earth; browns and Ochers, these colors carry a solidity and magic associated with mud. The colors tie me to people I've met in different parts of the world.
Could you elaborate more on your ‘pinching & blending’ technique with clay and what led you to try this approach?
When I was starting I struggled with learning how to throw. I still don't consider my throwing skills as very good. Yet I wanted to build ambitious pieces, and so I had to use the hand-building technique of coils. However, instead of coils, I used thick ribbons of clay, which developed into the ‘pinching and blending techniques’. This was the easiest and the fastest way to build a large pot like a Surahi (traditional earthenware water pot from India) or Onggi pot. Smoothing it out seemed like too much work, so I started emphasizing the seams.
Breathing Without Fear, 2022 - Ceramics and Steel, 67x24in
Where did your journey with art first begin?
My journey with art began in the UK. As a toddler, I enjoyed watching my mother paint and sculpt, as she was always taking classes at the local community centers. We moved to India when I was 5, and I was suddenly surrounded by colors, larger-than-life statues of gods and mythological characters, all in vivid colors, and hand-painted billboard-sized movie posters. The sculptors and painters of these commercial arts had small street stalls, they would work on the side of the streets I would pass on my way to school every day. During this time we lived in a house under construction, and I was surrounded by carpenters and masons who carried the simplest of hand tools and made everything else they needed from raw materials. These things affected me, watching them taught me an ethos I still carry.
Conversations With My Dad 2, 2023 - Encaustic On Wood Panel, 46X32in
How do you decide on which medium to use for a particular piece or series? What draws you to clay for some works and wax for others?
The medium helps me decide what themes I choose. I try to understand the craft of clay or encaustic wax painting by improvising as I work or building a painting through meditation and reflection. When I paint, for example, I try not to make a painting. That opens new ways of seeing, and new themes and projects. These days painting and sculpture are beginning to overlap.
While teaching in NYC public schools, how did interactions with students shape or redefine your approach to your art?
Teaching is revisiting & relearning the basic ideas of art from a student's perspective. It opened new understandings of the material as it combined where I might be as an artist with seeing things from the adolescent student perspective and forcing me to become a student as well.
Conversations With My Dad 6, 2023 - Encaustic On Wood Panel, 40X34in
Are there any artists or people that have been most influential in
your creative development?
My mother, my wife and my daughter.
What's the biggest challenge that you face in your process of creating?
Conversations With My Dad 7, 2023 - Encaustic On Wood Panel, 54X36in
Where do you see yourself evolving as an artist, say 10 years from now?
I don’t see myself doing anything very different in 10 years, that’s not a lot of time and I work slowly. I hope I’m still painting in my next few lives. That may be the amount of time I need to create something really tremendous. I would hate to come back as a judgmental fly in some novice artists' studio, endlessly watching them make the same mistakes, and be completely powerless.
What does being an artist mean to you?
Creating work that pushes our aesthetic knowledge beyond cultural limits.
Marisol’s Music, 2023 - Encaustics on Canvas and Masonite Panel 52X42in
Walk us through a typical day ‘Inside the Studio.’ How do you start your day, and how do you know when a day's work is done?
Most days I wake up early and get to work. I like working in the early morning when my head and thoughts are clear and fresh. I usually go for a run in the afternoon to think about everything I did and reevaluate the direction the work is going in. After dinner I return to the studio to draw, build canvases, apply for exhibition opportunities, or read.
Inside Sinha’s Studio
Are there any inspirations, like books, music, or even scents, that you always keep in your studio to fuel your creativity?
These days, I'm reading a crazy book called The Brothers Karamazov. I am inspired by the work of Giacometti, DeKonning and Tantric Art. When I'm drawing or running, I sometimes like listening to podcasts and reading Eastern and Western philosophy about identity, power, the duality of being, and the nature of our insufferable existence.
Do you have any upcoming shows or series that you're particularly excited about?
Not currently, I'm waiting to hear back from several places. I am currently working on some encaustic paintings in the brown series, something I'm not quite done with. These are based on skin color studies of a pair of African Americans, who are old students of mine. I’m working directly with these people to capture the layers of colors that form that rich deep brown of their skin tones. I'm also starting a new series of color studies in encaustics and building a full-size figurative piece with the pinch and blend method.
You can learn more about Reuben Sinha via his links:
https://www.facebook.com/reuben.sinha/?show_switched_toast=0&show_invite_to_follow=0&sh ow_switched_tooltip=0&show_podcast_settings=0&show_community_review_changes=0&sho w_community_rollback=0&show_follower_visibility_disclosure=0
Banswomb, 2023 - Encaustics on Canvas and Wood Panel, 48x40in