Marc Quinn is known for his visceral sculptures, drawings, and paintings of such things as nude celebrities, fetuses, and impossibly lush flowers. Just in time for spring (appropriately enough), Galerie Thomas Modern presents in “Frozen Garden” a selection of Quinn’s flower paintings and works on paper. To borrow the artist’s words, visitors to the gallery should be prepared to enter “a delirious, colorful world.”
Quinn has spent his career exploring the fertile overlap between art and science. He is fascinated by what he sees as the symbiotic relationship between human beings and flowers. “You breed flowers because you like the look of them,” he once said. “You could argue that, actually, by doing this, we’re working for the genes of the flower. So, in a funny way, the plant is making us do its work.” Quinn, for one, is happy to oblige.
As the exhibition’s title indicates, the flowers in the compositions bloom in improbably frozen conditions. Enormous and full of life, they crowd the picture plane in overlapping, brightly colored arrangements, sometimes appearing next to crimson-skinned cherry tomatoes or mouthwatering strawberries—and all on grounds covered with soft blankets of snow. In some works, like Labrador Sound Thaw (2009), the fruit and flowers themselves are lightly dusted with snowflakes. In San Fernando Valley Falls (2010), a smattering of cherry tomatoes is nestled snugly into the snowy ground. The halo of white at the heart of the bright red flower in the center of Six Moments of Sunrise (GT 13) (2008) echoes the white of the snow.
The large-scale paintings included in the show dwarf and engulf those who stand in front of them. For Quinn, this shift in perspective brings us as close as we can come to the experience of an insect. As he once described: “You’re reduced to the size of an insect . . . with the flower paintings.” In this case, being small might not be so bad after all.