Quinn is interested in how different works communicate with each other. He often juxtaposes his work with others but says that not all the works on show in this exhibition are necessarily inspired by the things they’re linked with, although some are.
Quinn also relates his work to ancient and prehistoric art. He said that when he started making his flower paintings he wanted them to have a completely flat finish and the way to do this was to use an airbrush to spray the oil paint onto a canvas – which seemed to him like a very modern way to paint. A while later he was flicking through a book of cave paintings and realised that this wasn’t a modern way to paint at all, but a very ancient one, because many of these paintings were made by blowing pure pigment through a straw or a pipe onto the cave walls.
These flower paintings, while beautiful, also have a sinister subtext. They are certainly representational, but they are also representational of the nature of cultural and economic affairs. It’s a frozen sculpture or image of globalization: the ability to have flowers flown in from all over the world on the same day.
Speaking about Giacometti’s ‘Femme de Venise VI’, Quinn says that because the formal relationship between this and his ‘Faim Assise’ is very close, it’s much more about conceptual differences. With his work, Quinn was interested in how we project our own signification onto a surface. Although they both ended up with similar looking objects there were different motivations behind each work.
Another work that draws parallels to historic work is ‘Hoxton Venus’. This is a sculpture of Quinn’s ex-wife when she was pregnant. She put her hair in front of her face when posing and Quinn says that the moment she did that she became a contemporary, urban incarnation of the Venus of Willendorf. The ‘Hoxton Venus’ is very proud and defiant and what interested Quinn was that while the belly and the breasts are vulnerable, concrete imparts enormous strength.
Once you engage with time, then you engage with several kinds: your own lifespan, the cultural time you live in, and deep time. This is the point of having a conversation with the art works that have come before, and those that will follow on afterwards. Art is always in the now, and always in the time it was made.
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