Almine Rech gallery in Brussels is currently running the last couple of days of a big Belgian debut by Nathaniel Mary Quinn, an artist we've featured in our magazine in the past. Always Felt, Rarely Seen has been up on view since March 14th and it continues artist's exploration of portrayal as an artistic format and a complex relationship between reality and perception.

It was about 5 years ago since Quinn accidentally departed from the more topical, politically-oriented work when he spontaneously created a portrait of his brother by patching up facial features from memory and imagination. This particular work was a literal milestone for the artist's career as it opened a whole new way of looking at his work.

Through his rich and intense life experience, Nathaniel Mary Quinn has met a lot of people from all layers of society, each one of them leaving an impression on the artist. Over the years he became aware that the idea we have of a person is not the actual representation of that person, but merely a projection of our memories and experiences. This ended up being the route he is taking when rendering our shared humanity and depicting specific individuals by taking apart, assembling, and reassembling the subject’s interior life.

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The results are composite, collage-like creations in which marks of diverse painting techniques such as oil, paint stick, charcoal, gouache, or pastel construct a representation of a specific subject. Drawn on paper or painted on canvas, these textured renditions of people the artist knows well and deeply, are turned into almost grotesque compounds of familiar features. From the realistic representation of one, the impressionist-like depictions of another, all the way to expressive and abstract brush gestures that glue the elements together, Quinn attempts to remove self-interpretation as much as possible. Masking the sections he isn't working on he is achieving the aesthetical and physical distance between the constructive elements of his subject. Mostly depicting only head and shoulders in traditional bust format, they are occasionally extended to half-length or full-length portraits that regularly become more distorted. Although based on real people, the works in the show have generic names such as The Disgruntled Teacher, The Director, The Disappointed Victim, The Grinning Chef, etc, and are result of Quinn's ability to harness his experiences, taking disparate fragments of the world and transforming them into portraits of the faces he had known.

Last week Gagosian announced the representation of Nathaniel Mary Quinn with his gallery debut being scheduled for fall 2019 at its Beverly Hills location.

Photos and text by @SashaBogojev