Marc Quinn explains the ongoing dynamic process behind his new body of work, ‘The Toxic Sublime’. A culmination of two years of investigation into natural phenomena and our distanced and complex relationship with the environment.
Marc Quinn (b 1964) is one of the leading artists of his generation. His sculptures, paintings and drawings explore the relationship between art and science, the human body and the perception of beauty, among other things.
‘The Toxic Sublime’ is presented at White Cube London, and the exhibition runs through September 13th 2015.
‘The Toxic Sublime’ series are distorted, three-dimensional seascapes that blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture. They begin with an inherently contradictory artistic gesture whereby Quinn submits a photograph on canvas of a sunrise to a process of aggressive alteration. The photograph is first sanded and taped, then spray-painted through various templates comprising flotsam and jetsam gathered from the beach. Once this process is complete, the artist takes the canvas out onto London streets and introduces the impressions of drain covers into the surface of the work. This intrusion is suggestive of how water, which is free and boundless in the ocean, is tamed, controlled and directed by the manmade network of conduits running beneath the surface of the city.
The degraded seascapes are finally bonded to a sheet of aluminium, to be pummelled and contorted by Quinn to create sculptural hybrid objects that not only exhibit the formal elements of classical landscape painting but also are suggestive of something wrecked, as if a pictorial remnant discarded from some kind of physical disaster. Moreover, while all the works originate from the same image of an orange-tinted sunrise, they each emerge inherently unique, the result of a distinct physical and material manipulation.
Quinn came to prominence in 1991 with his sculpture Self (1991); a cast of the artist’s head made from eight pints of his own frozen blood. Other critically acclaimed works include Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005), a fifteen-ton marble statue of the heavily pregnant and disabled Alison Lapper, exhibited on the fourth plinth at London’s Trafalgar Square; Siren (2008) a solid gold sculpture of the model Kate Moss displayed at The British Museum, London;All of Nature Flows Through Us (2011), a six meter bronze iris installed at Kistefos-Museet Norway; Breath (2012), a colossal replica of Alison Lapper Pregnant commissioned for the 2012 Paralympics opening ceremony and Planet (2013), a monumental rendition of the artist’s son as a sleeping baby, permanently installed at The Gardens by The Bay Singapore. He has exhibited in many important exhibitions internationally including Give and Take, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2001), the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and the Gwangju Biennale (2004). Museum and gallery shows include Tate Gallery, London (1995), Kunstverein Hannover (1999), Fondazione Prada, Milan (2000), Tate Liverpool (2002), MACRO, Rome (2006), Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2009), The White Cube, London (2010), Musée Océanographique, Monaco (2012), Fondazione Giorgio Cini (2013) and Arter, Space for Art, Istanbul (2014).
Throughout his oeuvre, Quinn draws on ideas and themes relating to the human body. Other key subjects include cycles of growth and evolution through topical issues such as genetics and the manipulation of DNA, as well as issues of life and death and identity. Quinn’s work uses a broad range of materials, both traditional and untraditional. The materiality of the object, in both its elemental composition and surface appearance, is at the heart of Quinn’s work.
Marc Quinn | filmed by Out of Sync | London September 2014
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
Artworks courtesy | Marc Quinn
© Out of Sync 2015