‘Emotional Detox’ is a series of sculptures made of lead and cast from the artist's own body. Detoxification is shown both as an overpowering physical convulsion to rid the body of poisons, and as a psychological battle to gain mental stability. This struggle against dependency involves a painful release as repressed emotions are newly experienced, forced out and sweated through the skin.
These sculptures are inspired by a traditional iconography – the seven deadly sins: anger, avarice, envy, gluttony, lust, pride and sloth. They are not, however, direct representations of those vices. Instead, the busts convey the impact of a body grappling with conflicting responses and venting powerful emotions.
Perhaps unexpectedly, considering the pressure and intensity they embody, the figures evolved through stages of disciplined preparation rather than abandoned outpouring. Quinn used photographs and collaged drawings to select poses and combine body sections; not all couplings of head and torso belong to the same casting session. His performance and method was thus different from the mescaline-influenced, self-portrait snapshots (mini-performances staged in a station photobooth) used by Arnulf Rainer as a basis for his ‘face farce’ drawings of the late 1960s and 1970s. Quinn’s controlled excess emulates more closely the ‘character heads’ made by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt in the late eighteenth century, some of which were also cast in lead. The results of a more time-consuming process than Rainer’s swift scribbling, Quinn’s sculptures pose a question of whether facial contortions can authentically convey fleeting inner sensations, or whether their features express no more than frozen muscular reflexes. He has created a complex dialogue between his material, subject and medium that is rich in association and vibrantly direct.
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