Gagosian Premieres

The ninth episode of Gagosian Premieres celebrates NOT FAR FROM HOME; STILL FAR AWAY—an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by Nathaniel Mary Quinn presented at Gagosian, New York, this fall—featuring a musical performance by Raphael Saadiq, a conversation between Quinn and Amanda Hunt, and commentary from Ekow Eshun.

In striking composite portraits rendered in charcoal, gouache, oil paint, oil stick, and pastel, Quinn probes the relationship between perception and memory. Uniting fragments from a variety of sources—including online media, fashion magazines, comic books, and family snapshots—he conjures hybrid faces and figures that are neo-Dadaist in their fractured appearance, yet realist in their carefully painted details and overall psychological effect. Working without preliminary sketches, he produces near perfect simulations of torn-paper collages—disjunctive visions that are consistent with the complicated personalities and social issues they represent.

In the episode, Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Raphael Saadiq performs his 2002 song “Blind Man” in the gallery at 980 Madison Avenue. Singing and playing the bass and a single kick drum, he is accompanied by his frequent collaborator, pianist Ernest Turner. Saadiq also joins Quinn on a walkthrough of the exhibition, during which he remarks on their shared use of intuitive creative decision-making to become “vessels through which energy flows.”

From his studio in Brooklyn, Quinn participates in a remote conversation with Amanda Hunt, director of public programs and creative practice at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles. The pair discuss Quinn’s career and focus on the manifestation of personal history in his imagery and technique as he “works through” key episodes from his past (“My tools,” he notes, “are vulnerability and empathy”). Writer and curator Ekow Eshun, in his commentary on Quinn’s work, considers the painter’s exploration of “Black interiority” and his ability to envision a selfhood informed by the struggles of American history. Eshun also discusses the pictures in relation to an art historical lineage that includes Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.