Artist Marc Quinn and Bristol resident Jen Reid unveil a new temporary, public installation, A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, on top of Edward Colston’s empty plinth in Bristol, England. This life-sized sculpture is based on an image the artist saw on Instagram of local resident Jen Reid standing on the vacant plinth with her fist raised in a Black Power salute, a spontaneous moment following a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020. During the protest, a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled from this spot. Cast in black resin, this new sculpture A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020 takes its place. No formal consent has been sought for the installation.
“On my way home from the protests on 7 June, I felt an overwhelming impulse to climb onto the plinth, just completely driven to do it by the events which had taken place right before. Seeing the statue of Edward Colston being thrown into the river felt like a truly historical moment; huge.
When I was stood there on the plinth, and raised my arm in a Black Power salute, it was totally spontaneous, I didn’t even think about it. It was like an electrical charge of power was running through me. My immediate thoughts were for the enslaved people who died at the hands of Colston and to give them power. I wanted to give George Floyd power, I wanted to give power to Black people like me who have suffered injustices and inequality. A surge of power out to them all.
I’m collaborating with Marc Quinn on this project as he cares about pushing inclusion to the forefront of people’s minds and uses his art to make people think. Creating this sculpture is so important as it helps keep the journey towards racial justice and equity moving, because Black lives matter every day.
This sculpture is about making a stand for my mother, for my daughter, for Black people like me. It’s about Black children seeing it up there. It’s something to feel proud of, to have a sense of belonging, because we actually do belong here and we’re not going anywhere.”
“This sculpture captures a moment. It happened in the middle of the news and the worldwide ripple effect from George Floyd’s killing – all of which I had been following. My friend who knew this showed me a picture on Instagram of Jen standing on the plinth in Bristol with her fist in a Black Power salute. My first, instant thought was how incredible it would be to make a sculpture of her, in that instant. It is such a powerful image, of a moment I felt had to be materialised, forever. I contacted Jen via social media to discuss the idea of the sculpture and she told me she wanted to collaborate.
The public realm feels so vital at the moment, as a space to activate ideas and create change. It feels essential in particular for public art to play its part. In 2005, I made a sculpture of Alison Lapper Pregnant for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth and learnt how effective public art can be in stimulating attention and discussion around urgent issues. The plinth of Edward Colston in Bristol seems the right place to share this sculpture about the fight against racism, which is undoubtedly the other virus facing society today.
Jen and I are not putting this sculpture on the plinth as a permanent solution to what should be there - it’s a spark which we hope will help to bring continued attention to this vital and pressing issue. We want to keep highlighting the unacceptable problem of institutionalised and systemic racism that everyone has a duty to face up to. This sculpture had to happen in the public realm now: this is not a new issue, but it feels like there’s been a global tipping point. It’s time for direct action now.
As well as being a person in the world, I’m an artist and a big part of my work is making art about historical moments within contemporary society. Like my History Paintings which I have been making over the last decade, which started with an image from the London riots following the death of Mark Duggan. In my work I look to the world and am committed to reflecting what I see, including inequalities and injustices. Prejudice, such as racism, is part of that.
Keeping the issue of Black people’s lives and experiences in the public eye and doing whatever I can to help is so important. Those of us who have privilege have a duty to be part of change. Something that Desmond Tutu said resonates with me strongly: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” I think this sums up how we’ve reached the point where white people have to be allies and white people in positions of power need to speak up and actively combat racism. For me this has meant taking time to educate myself, listen to others and find a meaningful way of contributing. The reasons why Jen wanted to do this together are so important, this sculpture is an embodiment and amplification of Jen’s ideas and experiences, and of the past, present and her hope for a better future.”
The installed sculpture, A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020, is not-for-profit. If sold, all profit will be donated to two charities chosen by Jen Reid, namely Cargo Classroom, a Black history syllabus created for Bristol teenagers and The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise founded in 2019 by young people to address the lack of Black British history in the UK curriculum.
Viral Paintings are a survey of our increasing digital interdependence at a vital point in history. In 2020, as access to physical connection and relationships faltered due to the pandemic, our online world expanded drastically. With a few clicks, we can discover news from every part of the world, from different perspectives, political agendas and social standpoints instantaneously. Each post, screenshot, share and view are a synapse into a new collective consciousness.
The paintings start life as iPhone screenshots and present a single-person account of the daily updates and viral moments that universally consumed us. A journey through our culture of fast-paced visual diets and breaking news alerts. The variety of news outlets and platforms deployed by Quinn showcase the different perceptions and focuses during a time of uncertainty, change and revolution. The paintings traverse the realms of reality and virtuality, what is real and what is not.
Quinn’s use of the screenshot reflects our preoccupation with mobile phones but also with documenting. Our camera rolls are full of screenshots – it has become the medium of sharing and receiving information. And the screenshot essentially becomes a new form of photography, an internal photograph of that new collective conscious, the world’s mind. We look at our screens with a sense of urgency. The paintings tell a year of stories through screenshots, from the Black Lives Matter protests to the inauguration of the new president. The title of the series reflects not only the pandemic period in which the works were originated, but the ongoing role of the internet in shaping our everyday lives.
The Viral Paintings mark a new chapter in Quinn’s ten-year series, History Paintings, which is rooted in subverting the grand tradition of History Painting. They explore how current affairs are communicated in the media today. They depict power being upended in the contemporary world and societal change now coming from the bottom up. While the documentary images featured in History Paintings take months to reproduce in oil, the use of printing in the Viral Paintings reflects the accelerated writing of history via constant online news updates.
Each screenshot is pigment-printed on canvas, retaining the iPhone’s original proportions and architecture but enlarged to 240 x 110cm (8’0” x 3’7”). The printed images are then overpainted in oil paint, using abstraction to portray the altered reality we experience when living life through a screen: human interaction distorts; facts and figures blur to become meaningless. Quinn’s use of paint highlights specific words, images and narratives that draw the viewer’s attention to different elements of the story.
Each screenshot is pigment-printed on canvas, retaining the iPhone’s original proportions and architecture but enlarged to 240 x 110cm (8’0” x 3’7”). The printed images are then overpainted in oil paint, using abstraction to portray the altered reality we experience when living life through a screen: human interaction distorts; facts and figures blur to become
meaningless. Quinn’s use of paint highlights specific words, images and narratives that draw the viewer’s attention to different elements of the story.
New series Far but Near, Lockdown Irises premiered at Sotheby’s 2020 MayDay Charity Auction. The auction lots were in the form of online experiences and 100% of sale profits are being donated to help the International Rescue Committee mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus in vulnerable communities. The series is an evolution of Quinn’s renowned iris paintings, which are collectively titled We Share Our Chemistry with the Stars.
Premiering for the first time at the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas are Quinn's Chaos Paintings. Created as an evolution of the artist's History Painting series, in which he appropriate images from the never-ending news cycles and social media, the Chaos Paintings demonstrate how these images populate our mind. By continuously adding splashes of paint and obscuring the original photorealist image, Quinn creates a compelling visual representation of the pervasive information overload and chaos of the 24-hour news cycle and how it affects us mentally and emotionally.
To coincide with the European elections over thirty leading contemporary artists, from all over Europe, united by donating artworks celebrating the European Union. The works were exhibited at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Ely House, from May 21-23 and then auctioned for charity auction on June 3 with all funds going to European cultural projects in the arts.
In March 2019 CAFA Art Museum will present Quinn's first solo museum exhibition in China. Curated by Wang Chunchen, 'Under the Skin' presents a selection of works that touch upon recurring themes of art and science; the human body; emotion; and the perception of beauty. These works have been drawn from across Quinn's 30-year career and from multiple series, exploring his enduring interest in identity.
From the author of 'Homo Deus' and 'Sapiens', Yuval Noah Harari’s new book '21 Lessons for the 21st Century' grapples with a world that is increasingly hard to comprehend. Featured on the front cover is one of Quinn iris painting from the 'We Share of Chemistry With the Stars'.
Marc Quinn's first ever 'Self' sculpture is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition 'Like Life: Sculpture, Color and The Body'. Exhibited alongside well-known masterpieces by Donatello, El Greco, Canova and Rodin the exhibition examines over seven hundred years of sculptural practice from the fourteenth century to today.
'Self-Conscious Gene', a 3.5 metre bronze sculpture of ‘Zombie Boy’ by Marc Quinn, is to go on permanent display in the Science Museum’s new Medicine Galleries in autumn 2019. The Science Museum have commissioned Marc Quinn to make a monumental sculpture for their new Medicine Galleries, which will open in autumn 2019. The sculpture will greet visitors as they enter the Galleries, introducing the theme of ‘Medicine and the Bodies’.
On 12 October, 2017 the National Gallery Australia celebrated 35 years with Marc Quinn as its "Birthday Lecture" keynote speaker. In conversation with Kirsten Paisley, NGA Deputy Director the two discussed Quinn's practice and artistic examination of the body. With a focus on Quinn's iconic self-portrait Self, 2011, which is on view at the Museum's Hyper Real exhibition, the conversation explored the unique lens through which Self responds to the body, identity and the hyperrealism as an artform.
A new exhibition, curated by Mo’Wax and UNKLE founder, artist and musician James Lavelle, featuring a host of contemporary artists, film makers and musicians showcasing works inspired by Stanley Kubrick.
Reinventing a classic from the Dior collection - the Lady Dior bags - Quinn transposes his hyper-realist oil paintings to Dior creations. Designs incorporate motifs from works including 'In the Night Garden', 'Fossil Record' and 'We Share Our Chemistry with the Stars'.
HUMAN REPRODUCTION at ART NEW YORK from 3RD - 8TH MAY. DANIEL ARSHAM, TANER CEYLAN, JAKE AND DINOS CHAPMAN, ZHANG HUAN, HENRY HUDSON, MARC QUINN and JASON SHULMAN. A curated selection of prints, limited edition sculptures and unique works on paper. Showcasing a new limited edition collagraph print from Marc Quinn's 'Toxic Sublime' series exclusively available at the fair during the launch week.
Held against the backdrop of the Hudson River at Pier 94, Art New York will be the first presentation of Human Reproduction works in the U.S.
Benefiting Dallas Contemporary and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation delivering vital HIV prevention messaging to a young international audience. Sarah Lucas / Cindy Sherman / Marc Quinn / Julian Schnabel / Jim Lambie / Daniel Arsham / Mat Collishaw / Michael Craig-Martin / Juergen Teller / Mario Testino...
Stella McCartney, Sarah Burton and Karl Lagerfeld sit for Marc Quinn to create a series of three of Quinn's unique iris portraits - 'We Share Our Chemistry with the Stars', featured in the September 2015 issue of Harper's Bazaar.