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Marc Quinn's 'Viral Paintings' Feature Screenshots of News Stories on COVID-19

“Being an artist, the only way I can cope with reality is to turn it into art.”

A notable member of the Young British Artists, Marc Quinn is known for his provocative sculptures including his Blood Head self portraits that feature a cast of his head created using over nine pints of his own blood to his life-sized bronze sculpture of the late Canadian artist and model Rick Genest aka “Zombie Boy.” As per The Guardian, Quinn recently unveiled his latest body of work called Viral Paintings which the artist made as “a personal visual diary” while undergoing self-isolation. These pieces feature mobile phone screenshots of news reports on the COVID-19 crisis that were printed on large canvases with Quinn subverting the imagery with brushstrokes of colorful oil paint, and some with detailed figurations.

With these works, the artist aims to shed light on the surreal and absurd times that we’re living in amid the ongoing pandemic. “Being an artist, the only way I can cope with reality is to turn it into art,” he said. “That’s how I understand the world and digest it. In the past people have made paintings to commemorate historical moments. Now we’ve got a historical moment happening every 12 hours, every one hour, so it’s, how do you react to that as an artist? How do you make history painting now about probably the most historical event we’re ever going to live through?”

The Viral Paintings is part of an existing series called History Paintings that Quinn has been working on for over the past 10 years. These pieces — slated to go on show in 2021 — will feature a varied selection of news accounts surrounding riots and revolutions while touching on the concepts of order and chaos. Quinn 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. He currently has 20 made so far: “The studio is full. I don’t know what to do with them all.”

In other news, Louis Vuitton is inviting its employees and their children to decorate the House’s windows in a new initiative called “The Rainbow Project.

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