Ged Quinn at Stephen Friedman Gallery
Ged Quinn is an artist with considerable mastery of his medium. He can paint beautifully, and he uses that skill to draw in the audience with awesome landscapes and still lifes, while delivering the punch of new and subversive ideas. Despite everything that has happened in art over the last century or so, the eye still likes to look at something it recognises and to admire the reproduction of natural forms. Quinn uses this harmonising tendency to make historical parodies, and to paint in mismatched elements like painted random collages.
The artist’s historical research and knowledge are evident in his work, and referenced works and eras are delivered with considerable appreciation. The additions and juxtapositions are more than cynical comments, but work within the traditions of painting to add new symbols and ideas that speak of contemporary culture, film stills and digital screens.
Portraits drawn from cubist ideas initially look as if they are from the 1920s, and yet additional markings and treatments make these works of today. Debates in art often overlap times and art movements, and directly referencing other times can enrich conversations that are still ongoing. Quinn adds smaller, more abstract paintings, which are studies of texture. While they are interesting and successful works, they seem to be part of another idea or another exhibition, and confuse the overall narrative of the show.
It’s more convincing to deliver ideas in art when skill is in evidence – people don’t have to guess what is deliberate and what accidental. Ged Quinn’s interventions within his own paintings are as deliberate and as rich to decipher as old masters.
Ged Quinn is at Stephen Friedman Gallery until 7th June 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.