Provocative studies on life and desire

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Provocative studies on life and desire

Marc Quinn, 44, is a British artist who rose to fame by creating a sculpture of his head out of four liters of his own blood. Quinn is in Seoul to open his first solo exhibition in Korea at the Gana Art Gallery (

Along with Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin, Quinn is a member of the Young British Artists group that has dominated British art since the 1990s.

YBA’s unconventional methods have brought them a fair amount of notoriety, exemplified in Quinn’s “Self” blood sculpture and Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” in which a dead shark is suspended in formaldehyde. Life and death are primary YBA themes.

Many of the members are alumni of the prestigious art school Goldsmith at the University of London. Quinn is a Cambridge graduate with a degree in history.

He usually works with the “life” end of the thematic spectrum. As a continuation of 1991’s Self, Quinn made “Lucas” in 2001? a sculpture of his son’s head using the baby’s placenta.

Quinn says he chooses to work with materials that are pure life. The four liters of blood in Self, for example, is the same amount in his entire body. He collected it by going to a doctor every two months and having small amounts extracted. The more blood he used, the stronger the statement, he said.

Since 1991, Quinn has been making a similar piece every five years; four so far.

In 2006 he made a sculpture of Allison Lapper, a fellow British artist who was born without arms and extremely short legs. The work was exhibited in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The Seoul exhibition features a total of 20 pieces, including 10 large sexually suggestive flower paintings such as “Solar Activity Monitor”; a sculpture of a skeleton in a meditation pose titled “Meditation on Illusion”; and a sculpture of model Kate Moss in a yoga pose called “Endless Column.”

Regarding the flower paintings, Quinn said all life has the desire to propagate. The flower in his painting represents this desire.

Endless Column is a continuation of an earlier work of the pregnant Allison Lapper. The works are a study on the bodies that our souls are trapped in.

Both bodies, regardless of their condition, are sculpted to be beautiful.

Quinn’s solo exhibition runs through Aug. 3.

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