This exhibition at CAC Málaga includes a selection of new and recent works that continue Quinn's investigation into some of the key concerns of our age. The exhibition will centre around a new body of work entitled ‘The Toxic Sublime', distorted landscapes that blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture.
In the 'Creation of History' series, which comprises oil paintings on canvas and Jacquard tapestries, Quinn again returns to an ancient form of art, the history painting, but brings it right into the present day by focusing on how our subjective response to and collective memory of contemporary events can create our historical past.
In these works, Quinn selects familiar media images of recent conflict – such as images of masked rioters in Istanbul, protestors in Rio de Janeiro, and anti-austerity demonstrators in Greece – and repaints them as large-scale canvases.
Quinn's tapestries are an almost literal manifestation of the notion of history as an interweaving of different threads or stories, as well as a modern-day, analogue version of the pixelated, media image. His recent series of concrete sculptures such as Id (2012), Zombie Boy (City) (2011) and The Beauty of Healing (2014) depict contemporary anti-establishment figures such as rioters in masks, 'hoodies' or tattooed travellers.
In Life Breathes the Breath (Inspiration) (2012), Quinn uses a process of orbital sanding and lacquering bronze to portray himself as a Buddha-like glowing figure, sitting cross-legged on the floor, dressed in the uniform of urban youth – jeans, hoodie and a cap – contemplating an upturned skull as if looking straight into the abyss of his own mortality. These notions of mortality, flesh and death as well as the concerns of still life as memento mori are continued in both the 'Flesh Painting' series and the new 'carving' sculptures formed from different types of precious stone.
The 'Flesh Paintings' point to one of Quinn's most consistent themes: our reliance on and relationship to nature and to our own mortality. In these works, animal flesh is painted in close-up, creating purely abstract works that emphasise the beauty of nature's own patterning but, at the same time, bringing the viewer face to face with their own fears and repulsion from death. Similarly, in The Invention of Carving (2013), a sculpture of an oversized Spanish Serrano ham in pink onyx inspired by the meat sculptures of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), Quinn marries the idea of our appetite for food with our appetite for art, questioning both their evolution and mutual correlation.
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