Written by Audra Lambert
Matthew Quick is a wry investigator of the human condition, cleverly exhuming and re-interpreting the follies of history through his lush imagery. Nowhere is this triumphant impulse more apparent than in his recent body of work, Monumental Nobodies.
Quick’s images immediately juxtapose memory and contemporary society, weaving new narratives from historical events with the layered nuance of a modern perspective. Transforming monumental figures through the power of creative vision, his impressive historical acumen is revealed through vibrant visual observations in his paintings. Rising as one of Australia’s top 50 artists according to BWR, Quick’s CV includes founding an advertising agency, lecturing at universities, copywriting and working as an interior designer, indicating the insatiable curiosity he holds for the inner workings of the world around him. Applying this curiosity to a fresh look at historically significant monuments, Quick is able to layer contemporary imagery into Monumental Nobodies in an aesthetic, incisive way.
Quick’s artworks frequently garner him accolades, and the artist has been named as a finalist or prizewinner of several art awards including the Sulman Art Prize, the Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, the Mosman Art Prize and several others. Quick takes the praise in stride, focusing on the meaningful implications embedded in his artwork. His masterwork, “History is Written by the Victors”, takes as its subject an overwhelming “Motherland” sculpture placed in Kiev in 1981, a statue twice the size of the Statue of Liberty. The artwork wraps delicious social commentary into a fanciful, realistic depiction of this status re-imagined as a communications tower. As Quick explains, “Like the monuments of antiquity, it may only be a matter of time before the prevailing political creed decides she be “repurposed” for another use, or scrapped altogether.” Quick’s depictions of distinguished monuments re-framed for a contemporary viewer astound in their simplicity and delight in their visual efficacy. His works reveal the power structures which regularly remain hidden in our political system in surprising and resounding imagery.
For Quick, investigating history in masterful visuals is the reward in itself, revealing the importance of fully comprehending the grasp that the past holds on the present. Quick deftly reframes the narrative, blending Pop art stylings into potent political commentary. Various examinations of political mechanisms and the capitalist system form the underlying concepts behind Quick’s clever forms. As he notes of capitalism’s firm hold on Western society, “ statues advertising the capitalist brand are also barricaded from their disciples; victims of a congregation so enraptured they have long since lost sight of the original beliefs.” Quick is unafraid to push back the curtain and paint the truths lying just out of plain sight.
Matthew Quick’s next solo show “Bling” opens 16 November through 2 December at Nanda/Hobbs Contemporary at Rabbit Gallery (Nanda/Hobbs, 12-14 Meagher St, Chippendale NSW 2008)