Marc Quinn’s ‘Viral Paintings’ Is A Visual Record Of The Pandemic

words by claudia
26.05.2020

Marc Quinn’s (@marcquinnart) ‘Viral Paintings’ are a visual diary of the Covid-19 pandemic. Having spent the lockdown working alone in his London studio, Quinn observed that these screenshots he was taking from various sources on his devices are history paintings of modern times. He then decided to work with these screengrabs, keeping their original proportions but enlarged to produce paintings that bridge virtual and reality.

A couple of pieces that Quinn has chosen for the series are screen grabs of news articles revolving around America’s first responders and essential workers. He takes us through one of his paintings in the series—an article by the New York Times titled “12 Fraught Hours With E.M.T.s in a City Under Siege”. On a video posted on Instagram, he points out that the structure of the worker holding a lamp at the back of an ambulance that mirrors the statue of liberty and also of someone shining light in the dark. To him, both images on the painting also hold semblance to Christian narratives. He describes the abstract painting overlain as “mini galaxies of potential swarming around the light” which makes this piece symbolic of hope with his own interpretation.

Quinn also explains the other paintings in the series on his Instagram such as that of Bafta-winning filmmaker, Hassan Akkad, who volunteered as a hospital cleaner and Erin Bates, a baby born with a rare heart defect who incredibly beat the Covid-19 virus. The artist is planning to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the viral paintings to the National Health Service  and the World Health Organization.