A sink full of washing-up features in one of Kim Dingle's powerful paintings, currently on show at Sperone Westwater, a gallery on Manhattan's East 13th Street. Beneath it is a canvas of three bins overflowing ripely with kitchen rubbish. In another, a pan flames on a stove. Elsewhere two frenetic females in chef's toques are portrayed throwing themselves among giant cakes. "Just look at that fondue," approves Dingle's gallerist, Angela Westwater.
The show comes with a story. Five years ago, after her last show, Dingle opened up part of her Los Angeles studio as a coffee bar, where she and a female partner, Aude, started dishing up soups, salads, and wine. Fatty's, as Dingle called her boîte, was soon such a hit that it devoured the artist's time. But it now feeds back into her work.
Deep personal experience has been drawn on by artists (some artists anyway), from the beginnings of art-making. In Modernism, Van Gogh's self-portrait with a bandaged ear is blunt, Francis Bacon's canvases dealing with the suicide of his partner George Dyer are more coded. The Düsseldorf master Josef Beuys, who crashed on the Crimean Front as a radio operator with the Luftwaffe, and who owed his life to Tartars, who swaddled him in animal fat and felt, used these as art materials throughout his career.
But personal experience is now flooding into art-making as never before. It's not hard to find compelling reasons why. There is the huge influence of Performance on studio-made fine arts, for one (Beuys was a performance artist also). There has been the impact of photography and video, both often conduits for the fiercely personal. There is the confessional culture (hello, Tracey Emin), the over-arching internet, the insistent familiarities of e-mail, and now the ungovernable tsunami of blogs. Artists are part of the real world too. How could their practices not be affected?
Take, for instance, the show of MP Landis at 55 Mercer, a gallery run by artists as a co-op and, as such, New York's oldest. The Landis show consists of 14 pieces, respectively on wood and paper. Each is called "Another". Each is an oblong into which a small hole has been cut into the bottom right section. Each hole has been plugged with something not particularly well-fitting, which is sometimes stitched into place.
The subject is Landis's recent kidney transplant.
Actually, Landis's health is the dominant subject of all his art. "I developed Type One diabetes when I was six," he tells me, his manner mild, without self-pity. "I was in a coma for about two days. And when I came out of this coma the first thing I said to my mother was 'when I grow up I'm either going to be a doctor or be an artist'. I had forgotten that. She reminded me, years later. The doctor made sense but I didn't actually have any role model for an artist at that age."
Landis is now 42. His transplant followed a bout of pneumonia. The donor was a close friend, a musician. "This work is my way of dealing with the idea of actually having someone else's kidney in my body," he says.
The "Another" pieces can be read as meditative abstractions. "But watching people at the opening, it seemed like it was quite disturbing to some people. They sort of fled."
Will the series continue?
"I thought I might do more. But now I think I've done whatever I needed to do," he said.
I reached Kim Dingle at Fatty's, which, it transpires, is Zagat-rated.
"Everything that I do here gets into the painting," she says. "On June 1, we will have completed our sixth year. I'm here right now. I overslept. I had an appointment to meet the ice-man. He's moving our ice machine to a new location. We're expanding the kitchen.
"I'll be here all day. Then I'm planting the herb garden. On Sunday night they were already snipping my brand-new basil plants that weren't even in the ground yet. Because we needed really fresh basil to garnish the moussaka."
How does she distinguish the cooking process from the art-making?
"It's an identical process. You pick your materials. You know, I like to use Windsor & Newton oils. And when we pick oil for the kitchen we pick pumpkin seed oil. Which is sometimes really hard to find. And really high quality hand-made olive oil from Italy.
"So I don't even know when I can make paintings. Because it sucks the lifeblood out of me. Twenty-four hours a day! Running a restaurant is the hardest job I have ever done in my life. I can paint a masterpiece easier than I can run a restaurant."
Dingle's art helped her deal with the life.
"I used to throw chairs and sometimes I was very rude because I was exhausted all the time. But you can't do that in hospitality. And a lot of the frustrations I could take out in this work.
"There's an awful lot of fondue and cheese on these girls' socks. And spilled drinks and broken glasses when the cakes don't go right. I can't do it in the restaurant but I do it in the paintings."