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Viral Paintings picture
Overview:

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.

Read more about the series here:
- The Guardian
- AnOther
- Artnet

Viral Painting. America's Most Essential Workers, The New York Times (Painted 19 April 2020), Marc Quinn, 2020. Oil paint, gold leaf and pigment print on canvas. 240h x 110w cm. Copyright Marc Quinn studio.

Viral Painting. Baby Erin Bates, (Painted 15 April 2020), Marc Quinn, 2020. Oil paint and pigment print on canvas. 240h x 110w cm. Copyright Marc Quinn studio.

Viral Painting. Bafta-Winning Film-Maker Becomes Hospital Cleaner, The Guardian (Painted 10 April 2020), Marc Quinn, 2020. Oil paint, gold leaf and pigment print on canvas. 240h x 110w cm. Copyright Marc Quinn studio.

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