Ged Quinn's 'The Happy Garden' at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens puts the controversial into the classic

Currently on display as part of Sunderland Museum's contemporary art exhibits 'The Happy Garden' is a wonderful example of Ged Quinn's method of combining modern and perhaps controversial references onto the classic and idyllic.

Ged Quinn has produced many works that, at face value, are reminiscent of more classical paintings but contain within the detail, references to the modern or the disturbing or both. For example his painting 'No One Here Has Heard of You' appears to be a painting by a Dutch Master of a vase full of flowers sitting on a table by a window. On closer inspection we see within the detail that the flowers in the centre are formed into a deaths head while a scene from the Exorcist is played out in the glaze of the vase; also if we look out of the window we see what appears to be the Tower of Babel under construction.

Ged Quinn's landscape paintings have often been compared to the 17th century French painter Claude Lorrain. However the painting on display and part of Sunderland Museum's collection of art 'The Happy Garden' is more reminiscent of the 17th Century landscape painting 'View of a House and its Estate in Belsize, Middlesex' by Jan Siberechts. In both paintings all looks happy, content, well ordered, traditional, all is just as it should be. On closer inspection however we notice that in 'The Happy Garden' the well-ordered gardens are laid out in the shape of the structure of viruses such as HIV and herpes while the flora in the foreground spells out an ominous 'welcome'. The result is an unsettling beauty.

'The Happy Garden' is a wonderful example of Ged Quinn's skill of imposing modern day references onto more traditional styles of art and is a fine example of Sunderland Museums expansive collection of contemporary art.

Ged Quinn was born in 1963. He studied at Ruskin College, Oxford, The Slade, London, the Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf and Rijksakademie, Amsterdam.

Find out more about Ged Quinn.

Find out more about Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

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2013 marked 21 years since Sunderland city status from HM The Queen, on 23rd March 1992.


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