Ged Quinn

22 Nov 2007 - 13 Jan 2008

© Installation View

In 1793 Charlotte Corday stabbed to death the French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat in his bath. The image is famously depicted in Jacques-Louis David’s painting of the same year. The exhibition’s title is a translation of the script of the supposed note sent by Corday and held by the dead Marat as depicted by David. The duality of the message, at once supplicatory and demanding, requesting assistance and promising destruction is echoed in the works; a discourse of threat permeating the familiar and pleasing. Quinn’s new work shows irreverent use of diffuse and destabilising imagery and referentiality to both undercut and play with the discourse of threat. Rich landscapes into which Quinn takes signs of death, suffering, redemption and humour. An inimitable mix of revelation and obfuscation, of densely referential imagery. In ‘Here is not the Place for Nostalgia’ the remains of a nondescript functional building sits abandoned and swamped in water - permeating decay into the vast landscape of Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823 –1900 The American Sublime). Layers of drawings and markings on the walls and references to movements of the past, such as the first Dada exhibition (Pig in Army Uniform) or The Enlightenment where descriptions of The Grotesque were visualized (a two headed figure drawn on wall) all suggest the passing of time. Glowing Orbs circle, hinting at the supernatural; a ghostly presence – while a wheelclamped Time Machine remains imprisoned in the present and prevented from moving back or forward in time. In ‘No one here has heard of you’, an imagined 17th Century Dutch flower painting, Quinn plays deliberately and ironically with the heavy symbolism of the genre. The vase is placed within a room - imagined scenes of the construction of the Tower of Babel can be seen through the window. The room is at the top of the tower that, the book of Genesis and apocrypha inform us, was built by a united humanity to reach the heavens. The vase has an image from The Exorcist (1973) where a struggle between good and evil is acted out while within the beautifully worked floral arrangement a skull is represented in Archimbaldesque style. In ‘The Lone Ranger’ Quinn has taken Ruisdael intervened with Robert Smithson’s ‘Partially Buried Woodshed’ ironically floating with Angel wings above the bleak moonlit winter landscape as if resurrected. Large billowing clouds and black smoke hover menacingly over the dead tree and derelict buildings, where depictions of Earth, Fire, Air and Water are seen within the rooms. A lone figure in prison uniform (with dog) walks through landscape carrying a bird table. ‘The Great Art of Light and Shadow’ takes as its backdrop Ruisdael's ' The Jewish Cemetery' (c.1679) [The Detroit version] albeit reversed, as though seen in a mirror. Like Ruisdael's work, highly charged with allegorical intent, Quinn works with a modern narrative overlaid and impregnated into the 17th century painting by using imagery of Andreas Baader's Stammheim cell of 1977 where the social activist turned terrorist was “found” dead. Quinn plays further by having the prison cell scene depicted through a Camera Obscura therefore suggesting something reflected from outside the picture plane. References to esoteric hierarchies of the angels, elemental powers, entropy, sex, American presidents and psychedelic album covers are all used to wider meaning in Quinn’s work creating a world where the esoteric and banal, archaic and modern symbols of Western culture and subculture coexist.

Tags: C.T. Jasper, Ged Quinn