When real flowers in a perfect state are eternalized by an artist such as Marc Quinn it leads to magical transformations. Quinn creates an eternalization of the perfect form of a flower, accumulated in a mythical landscape that represents the desire to control the present-day order of nature of humans.
Frozen Flower Sculptures
The artist Marc Quinn captures what he describes as:
“The purest and most magical transformation of reality into art”.
The frozen flower sculptures range from single works to large-scale installations such as 'The Engine of Evolution' and even a walk-through installation called 'Garden'.
How To 'Freeze' Flowers
Real flowers in a perfect state of bloom have been plunged into frozen silicone oil. As the flowers freeze, they die, but in doing so, they become a perfect, eternal image of themselves. So the sculptures arise.
A Fantastical Landscape
In Garden, a large-scale installation by Quinn's hand, thousands of different types of flowers and plants were accumulated together in an architectural, walk-through structure. It is an installation of flowers in full bloom preserved in silicone. Since many of the species would never grow together or bloom at the same time, the Garden represents a fantastical, almost mythical landscape. This installation also comments on the present-day driving force of human desire, attempting to shape and control the natural world around us.
Taking this notion as a starting point, Quinn has also used the forms of orchids repeatedly in his sculptures, as readymade forms in large-scale bronze works, or collaged together in 'The Nurseries of El Dorado' series. In these small-scale bronze sculptures, Quinn has created hybrid plants using elements taken from different plants. The artist has carefully pieced together these different elements and cast them in bronze.
Marc Quinn About Garden
“For me, the Garden is about desire, it’s about all the flowers in the world all coming up at the same time, in the same place, an idea of a perfect paradise. You’ve got the metal refrigeration unit, the glass top, the tank, the silicone and then you’ve got this delicate image of the living bit, so in a traditional way it’s like body and soul. The idea of mechanics and something that’s alive inside it, even though the irony is that the flowers, in order to appear to live forever, are dead. Sculpture’s about transformation but what I like about the Garden is the flowers appear not to be transformed, however if you touch them you’d find that they’re as brittle as porcelain. I wanted it to be about the manipulation of nature as well. There is no such thing as nature anymore. It’s all culture now. Every landscape you see is a manipulated landscape, every flower has been genetically modified through breeding to be like it is, so these pictures are about The Garden being constructed, not grown, that’s one aspect.”
The Engine of Evolution
Following this, Quinn created a naturalistic portrayal of a Phalaenopsis, a genus of the orchid family, paired with an Anthurium, a genus of the arum family. This monumental work is rendered in great detail, with fine, papery petals. Each flower is distinguished with its unique veins, defying the properties of the bronze medium in which they were cast to appear almost weightless and ethereal.
The Concept of Ideal Beauty
Every element of the sculpture aspires to the perfection of reality and the accurate rendition of natural beauty. The 'Engine of Evolution' also belongs to the series of sculptures and paintings such as 'Garden' and 'The Static of Nature'. Through this series, Quinn has explored the concept of ideal beauty achieved, especially, through genetic modification.
Phalaenopsis and Anthurium Standoff
On an immense scale, the delicate petals take on an ominous presence, ranged against each other in a botanical, sexual standoff: the orchid with its pincer-like mandibles poised to snap shut at any moment, confronted by the bristling, phallic protrusion of the Anthurium's spadix - the attribute that has earned this plant the alias 'Boy Flower'. The title of the work, 'The Engine of Evolution', and the way that Quinn has anatomically reduced the flowers to their reproductive elements leaves the viewer under no illusion as to the nature of the encounter, laden with sexual connotations. As a result, 'The Engine of Evolution' forces us to think again about the innocence of beauty whilst confirming the saying that it is often the most beautiful elements of nature that are in fact the most dangerous.