John Sonsini

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john sansini and gabriel barajas 2004

John Sonsini and Gabriel Barajas – 2004

When John Sonsini began painting Latino day laborers in Los Angeles, California, around 2001, his intentions weren’t quite political. They were practical. The subjects were available and abundant. Sonsini first noticed a man cleaning up outside the building that housed his studio. They struck up a conversation. Sonsini, upon learning that the man spent his days looking for work on Olympic Boulevard, offered him a job: artistic subject. “The ‘concept’ is really all wrapped up in the need to find guys who would be available to model daily at the studio, It was my partner Gabriel’s idea to approach the guys gathering for work in the neighborhood of our studio. So the notion of painting dayworkers grew entirely out of my need to have sitters who were available to work daily in the studio.” Sonsini, born in 1950 in Rome, New York, previously compared his painting practice to street photography, emphasizing its spontaneity and intense interest in quotidian detail. He’s previously painted individuals he met on the street in L.A., and spent over six years painting no one but his partner Gabriel. Sonsini also recognizes similarities between his painting practice and the craft-based tasks his subjects are often hired to complete, as both manually create an object from nothing.

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