Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s exhibit at Rhona Hoffman’s West Loop gallery is truly wonderful. The portraits in the show consist of collages and hand drawn elements, creating fractured faces and bodies. I really love the way the work mixes collage with drawn and painted areas. The fractured areas of the faces sometimes appear to be applied when they are actually drawn or painted on the surface with a hard edge, making them seem to be separate while in reality they are not. The people represented in Mr. Quinn’s portraits have a disjointed appearance, yet they also have a sense of nobility about them. Some of this is from formal positioning of the people and some is from the traditional techniques used in the pieces. Several of the works have backgrounds which seem to reference Renaissance paintings and some pull from more contemporary studio portraits like a child would have taken at a school. Nathaniel Quinn says “I hope to convey a sense of how our experiences, both good and bad, operate to construct our identities. I also want to portray a mutual relationship between the acceptable and the unacceptable, the grotesque and what is aesthetically pleasing.” The combination of the
grotesque and the aesthetically pleasing was. For me, the hook that drew me closer. Bringing disparate elements into a harmonious work seems like a challenging task, but true to his goal, Mr Quinn achieves it successfully.
‘Nothing Funny’ September 8th through October 14th
Volume 32 no.2 November/December 2017 p33