The first time I saw the work of Nathanial Mary Quinn I was sold and sadly, so too was the painting. There is a lot of buzz around Quinn and his rising star in the NYC art scene. His practice relies on the tension between the beautiful and the grotesque and sits somewhere between abstraction and figuration. Quinn’s work is an amalgamation of disjointed memories, visions and emotions, past and present. Approaching his work in an unguided, highly visceral way he manifests his feelings in an assemblage of facial features in the portraits he paints.
Quinn grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the most notorious projects in the country. His parents were illiterate, his brothers alcoholics and drug addicts and the environment around him violent. At age 15 Quinn received a scholarship to attend a boarding school in Indiana. After one month away, his mother, Mary, died unexpectedly and when Quinn returned home the following month, his family was gone. He has not seen or heard from them since. That was 22 years ago.
“I believe in life you are an amalgam of numerous experiences. You are built from a history of joy, sadness, ups, and downs. I’m trying to articulate the essence of that. All of that added up together is nothing more than a forest that stands in front of the truth.”
For more information on Quinn’s art and life go to the Brooklyn Reader or click on the link