David Quinn (born 1971, Dublin, Ireland) paints small-scale and intimate paintings, drawing on musical notation, minimalism, book design, signwriting and the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi.
'I went to art college to study design and photography but while I was there I kept lots of notebooks in which to put down ideas often with no goal or particular brief in mind. After a while, I realised that these were more interesting, to myself and others, than the more finished projects I produced, and so I figured, why not present them as objects/paintings, in their own right. I didn't set out to be an 'artist' but it seemed the most obvious route to take if I wanted to keep doing my own thing. I have made larger pieces as well, but I always keep returning to the notebook scale as it allows me to try things out and it matters little if it doesn't work out. They are also something I can work on no matter where I am, and I like to travel light. I've had to work in small studio spaces at times and wouldn't always have been able to make larger work. Most of my favourite works of art are small. Pieces by Kurt Schwitters, Paul Klee, Agnes Martin, Charles Brady and Forrest Bess come to mind. I also love old Russian icons and miniature Persian paintings. Simonides I think said "painting is silent poetry" and I see these small pieces of mine as visual haikus. They remind me of old paperback books, which I love'. (David Quinn)
'David Quinn's studio is a small, white, rectangular space. Small abstract paintings, the size of old paperbacks that can be nestled in one hand, hang in a line at eye-level on opposite walls. Each painting is a unit, both unique and part of a greater whole: words in a sentence, notes in a tune, hours in a day. At first glance they appear to be simple works, minimal and understated, but look again. Focus on the edges, see the layers built up like strata in sedimentary rock. Each layer is a page, a painting that Quinn has stuck down, studied, added to and covered up. Working on several paintings at once, Quinn considers them as markers of time. They are abstract and yet, they represent time worked and time spent in contemplation. Another definition of abstract - a summary of the contents of a book, article, or speech - is also relevant. The finished paintings are summaries of the process of their creation: concentrated forms or essences.
Although Quinn has produced work of various scales, he keeps returning to the format 8 x 5 inches, the size of the sketchbooks he used as a design student. He finds that this scale allows him to concentrate on his process and work on numerous pieces at once. In an interview from 2014, Frank Auerbach explained his dedication to using the same models for decades: “The closer one is to something, the more likely it is to be beautiful. The whole business of painting is very much to do with forgetting oneself and being able to act instinctively”. Quinn’s familiarity with this format allows him to move beyond conscious thought to an instinctive, meditative state that he finds productive'.(Riann Coulter)