Frozen Waves, Broken Sublimes (2015)
Sculptures, Variable dimensions
Four monumental sculptures by Marc Quinn, being two bodies of work entitled respectively Frozen Wave and Broken Sublime (2015), are presented in Somerset House’s historic Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court.
The four sculptures, namely Frozen Wave (The Conservation of Mass), Frozen Wave (The Conservation of Energy), Broken Sublime (The Invention of Tools), Broken Sublime (The Hunger), originate from the remnants of shells. Created with stainless steel, the contrast between the unpolished and highly polished reflective surfaces adds to the works the aesthetic – elegant and minimal. Their monumental scale works amidst the courtyard’s fountains underline the works’ connection to water. All denote a conversation with the nature and the environment.
With primal and maritime sculptural shapes, the sculptures express the altered states of shell forms either by natural causes (like wave erosion) or by humans (by their consumption). In the moment before they disappear and become sand, all conch shells end up in a similar form – an arch that looks like a wave, as though an unwitting self-portrait by nature. With titles referencing the science of fluid dynamics and rendered in different scales and cast in stainless steel or concrete, the result appears like a sculpture of a wave yet also something primordial and ambiguous, mined from the depths of time. They point to a magical material transformation: the crystallization of movement into form.
‘Somerset House is a kind of urban beach of the Thames. Built on land which articulates the transition between the urban strand and the water of the river, it is the littoral zone of the city. By placing the cast stainless steel sculptures in the courtyard surrounded by the fountains, the water of the ocean which formed the sculptures’ shapes is linked to the tamed water of pipes, conduits and drains of the city’. (Marc Quinn, 2015)
This British sculptor and visual artist is perhaps not new to most. He creates provocative sculptural portraits composed of organic materials. He is better known for Alison Lapper Pregnant, a sculpture of a woman who was born without arms when she was heavily pregnant, which has been installed on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square. If not, his ongoing series of “Blood Head” self portraits – Self, in which a cast of his head is made with over nine pints of his own frozen blood. Quinn’s sculptures, paintings and drawings often deal with the distanced relationship we have with our bodies and with nature, highlighting how the conflict between the ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ has a grip on the contemporary psyche. The artist uses an uncompromising array of materials, from ice and blood to glass, marble, spray paint and lead. He also fabricates sculptures using more traditional media such as bronze, often depicting contorted bodies or people with unusual physical characteristics – amputees, or those who have undergone sex-change surgery.