For Matthew Quick, watching the most symbolic and memorable moment of the Iraq War was a moment of clarity. As US soldiers seized Baghdad and triumphantly pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein, he pondered how little had changed psychologically in the 1600 years since the barbarians pulled the same stunt during the Sack of Rome. This destruction of art for ideological reasons was inspiration for his epic series, Monumental Nobodies.
“From the people who build monuments in the first place, to those who destroy them, from the Visigoths and Vandals sacking Rome, the waves of European colonisation, the destruction wrought by ISIS, taggers defacing Banksy’s work and I’ve even seen guys walking down the street keying cars one after another, there is a thread running through all: the universal connection is about leaving a mark,” explains Quick. “They are all trying to say: Here I am. I have existed.”
Matthew Quick got to work painting famous monuments juxtaposed with today’s consumer products and iconography in an attempt to crystallise his ideas. However, as often happens during the creative process, the series evolved and produced new surprising layers. The modern additions shifted the focus of the work causing us to question their place in society and look at them with fresh eyes.
“With their conscious symbolism, the statues provide a foundation for a revisionist take on the notions of beauty, pride, individual freedom, social control, surveillance and nationalism. Historical sacred cows were also up for grabs. With ordinary objects replacing their crowns and thrones, the aura of emperors and gods can be transformed into powerless nobodies. And by gently ridiculing the deceitful behaviour of rulers who intentionally fail to act as they speak, it allowed me to question their motivations and subvert their initial grandiose goals.”
Taking the last couple of years to complete, this truly monumental series’ striking visuals and narratives take advantage of Quick’s multifaceted career. Before being named as one of Australia’s top 50 artists by BWR, he worked as an art-director, copywriter, university lecturer, illustrator and novelist. Who else is feeling like an underachiever?
Matthew Quick is currently working on a new major show due to be unveiled in Sydney this November. We can’t wait to see what he does next!
Browse and buy Matthew Quick’s original paintings on Bluethumb, Australia’s largest art marketplace, connecting collectors, art lovers and interior designers with emerging and established local artists.
**Online Author Freddy Grant is the PR & Communications Manager at Bluethumb.