Confronting insecurities and fears, embracing shortcomings, and contending with the burden of one’s own identity and truth are of paramount importance for becoming more concretely formed. My current studio practice maintains this endeavor: cutting through, digging out, excavating, laying bare wounds—past and present, temporary and permanent—on the surfaces of paper and canvas.
—Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Gagosian is pleased to present Hollow and Cut, new paintings and works on paper by Nathaniel Mary Quinn. This is his first exhibition with the gallery.
Quinn’s composite portraits probe the relationship between perception and memory. He rejects the notion of documentary portraiture; instead of depicting physical likeness, he illuminates subconscious aspects of the human psyche, coaxing forth manifestations of innate and repressed emotions.
While Quinn’s portraits might resemble collages, they are actually rendered by hand with oil paint, charcoal, gouache, oil stick, pastels, and gold leaf. He begins with a vision—a vague flash of a face from his past—that he feels viscerally compelled to translate into reality. To do so, he collects images from fashion magazines, newspapers, advertising, and comics, reconceptualizing the snippets as purely aesthetic imagery before methodically redrawing and repainting each one. In an impulse akin to the parlor game cadavre exquis, Quinn covers parts of his own composition with construction paper as he goes, so that no existing section influences the appearance of the next. Only when the work is complete does he remove the paper—revealing a visually disjointed yet psychologically unified portrait or figure whose genesis echoes the extemporaneity of human memory.
On view will be a number of Quinn’s “enhanced performance” drawings: 12-by-9-inch charcoal-on-paper works created simultaneously with both hands and “enhanced” with colorful swipes and swaths of gouache and soft pastels. For the ambidextrous Quinn, the technique behind these works is a full-body performance in itself that expands upon his already spontaneous act of rendering visions—yet the end result is surprisingly representational. Depicting complete faces rather than patchwork body parts, these haunting portraits slip in and out of focus through a murky haze of black charcoal.
Hollow and Cut will also feature new paintings, including Quinn’s second ever horizontal diptych, Jekyll and Hyde (2019), in which he dramatizes the process of visual fragmentation and reassembly by painting each half of the subject’s head separately before joining the two canvases. The strips of bare linen around the edges of each painting also emphasize this three-dimensionality and physicality. Using further perspectival sleight of hand, Quinn then paints the newly constricted edges of the work in a darker, shadowlike gradient, as if framing his portraits through an inset window. Confined within the world of the canvas, his swirling, distorted faces gaze out at us with raw emotion, baring their psychic vulnerabilities.
Nathaniel Mary Quinn and Troy Carter
On the eve of the opening of his first exhibition with Gagosian, in Beverly Hills, Nathaniel Mary Quinn joined Troy Carter for a conversation at LA’s Hammer Museum. They spoke about deliverance, Quinn’s new work, and what drives him to make art.
Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Anderson Cooper spoke with the artist at his Brooklyn studio about his childhood and the visionary nature of his art.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Hollow and Cut
Saturday, September 14, 2019, 1pm
Gagosian, Beverly Hills
Gagosian director Ashley Stewart will lead a tour of the exhibition Nathaniel Mary Quinn: Hollow and Cut at Gagosian, Beverly Hills. The show features new composite portraits by the artist that explore the relationship between perception and memory. The paintings and works on paper probe deeply embedded experiences and emotions that are not often discussed in public by illuminating the subconscious aspects of the human psyche. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Nathaniel Mary Quinn, How Come Not Me, 2019 © Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
April 12–May 18, 2019
Grosvenor Hill, London
On the Eve of Never Leaving
November 1, 2019–January 11, 2020
Desert Painters of Australia Part II
With Works from the Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield
July 26–September 6, 2019
February 21–April 13, 2019