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An Unusual Artist: Nathaniel Mary Quinn

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Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Diane, 2014
Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Diane, 2014 © Nathaniel Mary Quinn

We take a look at Nathaniel Mary Quinn's new exhibition Past/Present at Pace London

Who? Nathaniel Mary Quinn is a Brooklyn-based artist who has become known for his work in collage and mixed media. Born in 1977 in Chicago, Quinn’s childhood was very difficult – his mother died when he was young, and he was later abandoned by his father and brother. His desire to explore issues relating to his fraught personal history informs much of his art. As a consequence, his work can be quite shocking, but it retains a sense of grace and aesthetic accomplishment, which, Quinn says, is the result of his efforts to avoid excessive introspection.

"Quinn's work can be quite shocking, but it retains a sense of grace and aesthetic accomplishment...the result of his efforts to avoid excessive introspection"

What? Pace London are exhibiting a new collection of Quinn’s work in his solo exhibition Past/Present. These new works see Quinn working in a manner not dissimilar to synthetic cubism, combining images from multiple sources (ranging from family photographs to cuttings from articles and advertisements) in order to create large-scale images of grotesque figures, which he refers to as ‘hybrid creatures’.

Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Monique, 2014
Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Monique, 2014 © Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Why? In this exhibition, Quinn furthers his exploration of issues relating to contemporary identity. Although his works are very personal, they are also deeply in touch with trends in public life and are especially concerned, in their use of pop cultural imagery, with changes in the modern media landscape. His creation of fragmented and often schizophrenic feeling collages is in part a refection of a culture at odds with itself, unable to assemble the noise and confusion of its media into any kind of unity. But despite the deep sense of anxiety that informs them, Quinn stays level headed enough to render the images with astonishing technical skill and dexterity.

Past/Present is at Pace London from September 5 to October 4.

Words by Max Fletcher

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