Nathaniel Mary Quinn
It’s hard to shake one of Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s assembled faces once you’ve seen them: A kaleidoscope of facial features as if glimpsed in a funhouse mirror, they begin with the visions that come regularly to him. “I never write them down because I never forget them,” says the artist, 40, who recently joined New York’s Salon 94 gallery, with whom he’ll have a solo show next fall. “All I know is that I have this visual response to make them. That’s primarily what drives me. The work is telling me what it is; I’m just this puppet.”
Though his portraits appear to be collaged, they are actually hand drawn by Quinn and based on the mood board of photographs he’s gathered online or from magazines. But each time he paints a new feature, he covers the rest of the work so that he concentrates on that part of the picture. Only when he removes all of the covered bits does he see how the components have come together.
The artist grew up in the 1970s as the youngest of five boys in the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago, one of the most infamous housing projects in the country. His brothers were high school dropouts, but Quinn, a bright student with a knack for drawing, won a scholarship to attend a boarding school in Indiana. While he was away at school, his mother died; a month after the funeral Quinn, then only 15, returned home only to find that his father and brothers had abandoned him. Orphaned, he survived by strenuously applying himself at school so that he could keep his scholarship. He never heard from his family again until 2016, when out of the blue, he received a call from his brother Charles, who had seen Quinn on YouTube discussing his art practice on a popular podcast called “The Brilliant Idiot.” His brother half-heartedly explained how the family had dispersed; Quinn hasn’t spoken to him since.
Much of his work, he says, “is about my trying to seek a resolution to my childhood; It’s my way of recreating my family so that they can continue to exist. Formally speaking, I wanted to find a way to create a stronger marriage between the grotesque and the seamless, between chaos and organization.” Quinn taught at-risk youth following his graduate studies in fine arts at New York University, before turning full-time to painting in 2015. Once he arrived at his approach, Quinn’s career took off. He was featured in a group show in 2013 at the Susan Inglett Gallery, several of his works were acquired by the art patron Peggy Cooper Cafritz, and he had breakout solo shows at Pace Gallery in London, Rhona Hoffman in Chicago, M + B in Los Angeles and Half Gallery in New York.
In addition to his Salon 94 show next fall, Quinn will be included in a group exhibition at the Drawing Center; in 2019, he’s set to make his Paris solo debut with the gallerist Almine Rech. His creative breakthrough, he says, followed several years of therapy, during which he realized that his abandonment was, in some ways, his saving grace. “I was given a chance because I was rescued from what could have been my doom. And as it turns out, that experience gave me a history of information that would someday become the bedrock for my career. Look at all the stories I can tell through my work now.”
Eliza Douglas modeled for the designer Helmut Lang as a teen, opened Demna Gvasalia’s first Balenciaga show in Paris in 2016, and has performed in the ferocious works of her fiancée, artist Anne Imhof, winner of the 2017 Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion. But lately, Douglas has been drawing notice for her own bold work as an artist. Raised in New York City and now finishing her studies at the renowned Stadelschule in Frankfurt, where she lives, Douglas, 33, shifts between figurative and abstract painting in works that often riff on her tall, androgynous form. In one series, disembodied hands and feet are connected across stark white backgrounds by unnaturally elongated limbs, whose coiling shapes give the works a playful, performative air. Another offers up striking naturalistic portraits of floral and flannel shirts, a nude photograph stuffed into their breast pocket. Douglas’s rise has been swift: In the past year, she had her first solo gallery show at Air de Paris in Paris, followed by a collaborative painting and drawing show with Imhof at Galerie Buchholz in New York. In Berlin, the storied Schinkel Pavillon is presenting 14 of her large-scale paintings in her largest exhibition to date, which just opened this past weekend. And come May 2018, she’ll be included in a show at New York’s Jewish Museum.
The Swiss artist Shahryar Nashat, 42, who grew up in Geneva and now lives in Los Angeles, has long been preoccupied with the limits of the physical body, moving between video, performance, and sculpture in his explorations of its boundaries. His multisensory experiences involve both objects and images and challenge ideas about surface, skin, and the porousness of each. In his work Hard Up for Support, 2016, Nashat paired a carved and polished pink marble polygon sculpture with closeup shots of body orifices shown on a video monitor. “I like to think that the body seen in pixels can be as hard as marble,” says Nashat, “whereas marble can be as porous as an anus. They share similarities.” The installation was included in the Hammer Museum’s influential 2016 “Made in LA” biennial and goes on view this week as part of the Rubell Family Foundation’s new survey exhibition, “Still Human,” opening in Miami during Art Basel. This has been a major year for the artist. “The Cold Horizontals,” his current solo show at the Kunsthalle Basel, in Switzerland, marks his largest institutional exhibition to date, and he will be among the 30 international artists represented in the Hammer’s upcoming exhibition “Stories of Almost Everyone,” opening January 28 in L.A. There, he will open another solo show February 16 at David Kordansky Gallery, where Nashat plans to include the video “Image Is an Orphan,” shown in Basel, and combine it with new sculptures that imagine “how the body can be either harshly present or bluntly absent,” he says. “There’s a voice in the video that keeps repeating, 'How will I die? Who will carry me? Who will feel my aftereffects?' These questions hover over the show. In some ways, every work is obsessed with its existence, its desirability, and its after life.”
Growing up in Chicago, Diamond Stingily worked at her mother’s hair salon, and these days she is still working with hair. As the youngest artist included in the New Museum’s 2017 group show "Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon," Stingily, 27, contributed a braid of synthetic black hair more than 200 feet long that cascaded through the museum’s four galleries, a nod to the mythical powers of hair from Medusa to Rapunzel. “I was reading about how some people think that Medusa was a black woman with either dreads or braids,” she told W at the time, “and how the Greeks painted her as this aggressive character, when she wasn’t.” For “Kaas,” her first solo show at the New York gallery Queer Thoughts this past summer, she pinned to the wall long braids of varying lengths and tied with plastic barrettes. Evoking black girlhood, the sculptures, inspired by the snake character Kaa from The Jungle Book, also suggested darker forces at play given that visitors could step on the braids winding their way across the floor. The act of remembering was also the subject of “Elephant Memory,” her most recent show, at New York’s Ramiken Crucible. Worn baseball bats bar leaned against beaten doors; projected behind a chain-linked fence was a video of schoolgirls jumping rope and seemingly joyful, singing a song entitled “How Did He Die?” Next up for the promising artist and poet is her first museum solo show, opening in 2018 at the newly-designed Institute for Contemporary Art in Miami, as well as her inclusion the 2018 New Museum Triennial, opening in February.
With his debut solo show at New York's Karma in 2016, Walter Price, 28, became an artist to watch. At first glance, his small-scaled paintings pull you in through the intimacy of their domestic narratives. Look closer, however, and you’ll see that his figures live in no identifiable world, the scenes, objects, and vignettes often at odds with each other. As Price sees them, his paintings are also translations of experience into line, color, and lately, of texture. “Several newer works are a bit crunchy looking,” says the artist, who grew up in Georgia and enlisted in the Navy to pay his way through art school. Now based in New York, Price, who already has a work in the collection of the Whitney Museum, is currently included in the Studio Museum of Harlem’s “Fictions” group show of emerging artists and on the roster of the forthcoming Cleveland Triennial, opening next July. Then in August, he’ll set off for a residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva, Florida, before opening fall 2018 gallery shows at Karma and the Modern Institute in Glasgow.
Price has spent the past few months focusing on drawing in a sketchpad, though he prefers to paint directly on the canvas. He gets to work early, after rising at 4:40 a.m. to exercise. “I’ve been trying to teach myself to become ambidextrous,” he says of his goal to paint with both hands, “so I figure basketball is a good way to speed up the process because it’s such a fast game. Since I work out of my apartment, I also find it helpful to start painting first thing in the a.m. I read that studies have shown that the moment when we first wake up, our alpha brainwaves are at peak levels—but only for a short period of time. I try and capitalize on that, or maybe it’s just a placebo effect. I don’t know, but it feels good.”
Identity is a constantly shapeshifting construct in the paintings of Christina Quarles, whose work is directly informed by her experience as a “queer-cisgender woman who is black but often mistaken as white,” she says. Playing havoc with our fixed notions, she paints fractured, cavorting figures in ambiguous settings, using a mix of styles and techniques to reflect multiple storylines. “The composition of the figures is largely determined by the edge of the frame which, much like the edge of the body, is a limitation that is simultaneously completely arbitrary and extremely real,” adds Quarles, 32, who was born in Chicago and raised in L.A., where she lives. The artist has been on something of a hot streak since appearing in a group show at the David Castillo Gallery in Miami this past summer. During Art Basel Miami Beach, she will be well represented: In addition to the opening of "Baby, I Want Yew To Know All Tha Folks I Am," her first solo show at Castillo, three of her paintings will be included in the Rubell Family Collection’s new “Still Human” exhibition and two others in “Abstract/Not Abstract,” the third annual survey organized by Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch in the Design District. Coming off a year that has already seen Quarles featured in the New Museum’s "Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon" and the Studio Museum of Harlem’s "Fictions" group shows, the artist heads into 2018 with her first solo museum exhibition opening at the Berkeley Art Museum next fall.
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