Skip to content

Hettie Judah writes about Marc Quinn's exhibition Violence and Serenity.

Looking for Beauty in the Breaking Storm: Marc Quinn and the Aesthetics of Destruction picture

Between the earth and the air

You are standing at dawn with your back to the land looking out to the sea. This, the shoreline, is a limit, a crossing point: a border between countries and habitats. Standing here, your view is one of the world divided into its basic elements - earth, water, air - arranged in perfect ratio around the flaming eye of the rising sun. You look down. In the sand around your feet is evidence of ancient life forms; prehistoric marine invertebrates the spiralling intricate shells of which seem eloquent of some deep mathematics. Here too is human debris - lone sandals, blank bottles, polystyrene and other shreds from the acres of seaborne plastic waste. You look up to the sky; an aeroplane is flying in.

This view is just a picture: zoom into it until it fragments into dots, the image exploding beyond the limits of digital detail into a huge sprawl of shattered colour, which still faithfully traces the familiar shapes of the view out to sea. Details - of geographic specificity, of signs of plant or animal life - are erased; the composition is reduced to its most basic colours and forms, becoming a vision of nature, abstracted.

The Creation of History (Rio de Janeiro, 17 June 2013), 2014
Jacquard tapestry
151h x 250w cm

Photography by: Marc Quinn studio

View all Selected Essays

Back to top