28 Apr Arne Quinze
Protest art exquisitely packaged
Photos: Markus Schwer, Dave Bruel
Belgium, Sint-Martens-Latem. I need to mention that I am visiting an artist today whose works I have never seen live, and which I only know as pictures via his Instagram account. A risky experiment!
I cannot say what I expected when I travelled to this place, but it is definitely not what awaits me as I enter Arne Quinze’s home and studio building. The title of the brochure Welcome to my world that lies on the table gets to the heart of the matter.
It is a different world. Something between a cabinet of wonder and a experimental laboratory. I find numerous models of sculptures, either completed or still in the planning stage, carefully arranged on custom-made tables, shelves or on the walls, framed by huge paintings. As on a stage, spotlights draw attention to the huge diversity of colours and forms of the objects. In every corner there is something new to discover, and here and there also island-like workplaces.
Arne Quinze’s question about what exactly it is that I want to know leaves me at a loss for words. Where shall I start? For a change, I wish I had been better prepared. Luckily, he simply starts chatting and tells me of his central idea.
“With my art, I want to mainly create a bond between nature and civilisation. Since the year of my birth, 1971, 30 percent of our fauna and flora has been destroyed. With my work, I wish to draw attention to the beauty and energy of nature; show how it enriches our lives, and how worthy of protection it is. The dreariness of the mainly barren big cities often lets people forget this beauty and treat it carelessly. With my sculptures, which are based on the diversity of colours and forms in nature, I create a counterpart here. In order to reach as many people as possible with this idea, my sculptures are mainly found in public spaces all over the world. It is very important to me that culture is accessible not only in the usual institutions, but also open-air to everybody. For instance like this Stilt House, which will shortly be installed in São Paolo in Brazil. This sculpture will make its statement at a height of 75 meters, surrounded by skyscrapers”.
Together, we look at the model. A steel construction of vertically arranged rods leads up to bundles of horizontal rods and wattle arranged to each other at a 90 degree angle.
The upwards and outwards soaring of the form in particular and the bright colours create a construction of explosive dynamic. Strangely enough, the sculpture appears to be rickety and stable at the same time, like an exotic bird on long, thin legs. It is not difficult to recognize nature, epitomised as a source of energy and happiness, as a topic in all of the works seen here
“Are there tangible models from which the ideas are developed” I ask.
Quinze: “Yes. Everything is based on objects which I discover in nature or in my garden and then abstract and transform. Six years ago I planted more than six thousand plants and flowers around my house so that I could study how they grew and changed during the seasons. That is how the Lupines sculptures and the Twelve Months paintings in my current series of works came into being. Inspired by the flower of the lupine, I first made paper models for the sculptures. Then, the models were digitised and the statics calculated and finally they were manufactured in aluminium in our production studio and then painted by me.”
“For the Twelve Months paintings I was inspired by the changing play of light and colours in my garden, which inspired me to capture them on canvas.”
Together, we page through his just published catalogue. We look at pictures of his six Lupines sculptures, which have just been installed in front of the Science Museum in Valencia, and an overview of the imminent realisation of his projects. I count twelve, distributed over various continents.
“Do you still have time for your private life considering the amount of work you do?”
Quinze: “I do not separate my private life from my work. It is therefore also important for me that my children can grow up quite naturally with my art. Our living area and the studio are connected to each other to encourage and facilitate communication.”
A tour through the living area shows that art is not only part of every life, but that the entire interior appears to embody nature in an opulent and baroque form. Each of the individually decorated rooms creates a different ambiance and reflects the owner’s ideology. Noticeable also are the numerous books.
“I read a lot. I have a collection of 2,000 books”, Arne Quinze tells me and – noticing my slightly sceptical look – adds, with a twinkle in his eye “and I have read them all.”
I have to ask this question right now: “Does your day have more than 24 hours?”
Quinze: “It is all a question of organisation and attitude. I simply do everything I want to do and refuse to do what I don’t want to do. Art is my passion and therefore part of me. I am driven by my central idea of installing sculptures in public spaces which can stimulate a cultural discussion via their associations with the beauty of nature.”
“Do you check after you have finished a project, whether it caused any reactions and if so, what they were? ”
Quinze: “That happens all by itself. Every day we get innumerable thank-you letters, often containing photos of the sender posing in front of a particular sculpture. Naturally, there are also negative reactions. But that does not worry me. I don’t want to create art which everybody likes, but which stimulates a dialogue and, in the ideal case, a change in the attitude towards nature.”
According to this, an art that has the aim of structurally influencing the society. Here, one cannot help but taking a trip into the history of art. Because behind this hides an utopia which reminds at the theory of the social sculpture of Joseph Beuys. However, while Beuys, with his artistic interventions, was committed to a sustainable change of the urban habitat, it is the Arne Quinze’s sculptures themselves, which intend to prompt such changes with their aesthetic appeal that is so full of energy.
Protest art beautifully packed or perhaps, in fact, a new form of social sculpture?