23 febbraio 2023
by Guendalina Dainelli

The hands of Lorenzo Quinn

Lorenzo Quinn's sculpture
Lorenzo Quinn's sculpture

He says he's already lived four lives. The current one in Spain, where he is based with his atelier. At least two of his lives he lived in the US, first his childhood in Los Angeles and then when he moved to New York to study at the American Academy of Fine Arts. Then he moved again, to Italy, Rome and Venice, the cities of his mother Iolanda Addolori, an actress and costume designer, and wife Giovanna Cicutto, who gave him three children. However, judging by his recent success in the Arab world, from Egypt to the Arabian Gulf, one could say that the fifth phase of his life has already begun.

When we talk on the phone with Italian American artist and sculptor Lorenzo Quinn, he is taking off from Qatar’s Doha International Airport to head back to the United Arab Emirates. Many of his works can now be seen in Dubai. His 'Now and Forever' exhibition at the Leila Haller Gallery displays his jewelry alongside his sculptures. The DIFC Sculpture Park, an open-air art gallery that stretches alongside the iconic Gate Building, shows several of his surrealist-style signature creations inspired by Salvador Dali.

His monumentally sized interwoven hands with simple and immediate titles make him instantly recognizable

His signature pieces are monumental interwoven hands with simple and immediate titles. There is ‘Give,’ hands joined together to create a giant vase for a tree, earlier exhibited at Florence’s Boboli Gardens; ‘Love Dubai,’ whose metal writing alludes to the theme of tolerance deeply felt in the United Arab Emirates; ‘Together,’ gigantic metal mesh hands that touch at the fingertips, displayed in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza for the November 2021 Forever is Now Contemporary Art Exhibition. Now, the installation will form a monumental entrance arch to the DIFC park.

“The logistics for my works is a challenge, as they reach up to 12 meters in length, part of them were carried by ship and part by plane,” Quinn says. “Many of my public sculptures are exhibited in Qatar. I am happy to have this new opportunity to exhibit also in Dubai, where I have already done a lot of work for several private individuals. I think that the simplicity of my message, which means to be clear to everyone, is very much appreciated here in the Arabian Gulf. Everything we say and do in life has a ripple effect and forever alters the course of events, both in private life and internationally, as well as in our relationship with the ecosystem. What I try to do is to set off a positive wave of change by joining hands forever, like in my works.”

Being the son of Hollywood star Anthony Quinn, Lorenzo’s last name carries a lot of weight. He tells on social media of his dream childhood in Bel Air, where he roamed around on his bicycle in the gardens of his neighbors, like John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Jerry Lewis. “I am proud to be the son of a legend. I learned a lot from him. I've been in the art business for over 35 years. My father died when I was twenty, so he didn't see much of what I created, but he supported me. Sure, my last name is a double-edged sword, you can't afford mistakes."

I am proud to be the son of a legend. I learnt a lot from him

Although his last name is well known, even more so are the two gigantic nine-meter-high white hands in recyclable foam that emerged from the water of the Grand Canal at the 2017 Venice Biennale and supported Cà Sagredo Palace. The work was aptly titled ‘Support,’ a call to help the historical wonders of the city’s Lagoon against the threats of climate change.

“Apparently, it was shared on social media up to two billion times, a truly incredible public appreciation.” ‘Support’ has become a symbol of the fight against climate change; several smaller replicas were featured by the COP 25 in Madrid. Quinn returned to the Biennale two years later with ‘Building Bridges,’ six pairs of hands forming a bridge over the Venetian Arsenal, as a symbol of "everything that unites us," the artist said. These works garnered a lot of attention and were the subject of an endless number of photo shots although not officially part of the Biennale

However, some critics did not spare unflattering comments. Perhaps these works are too bulky? Quinn replied, “Constructive criticism is always useful, you can't please everyone, but I'm glad that the general public and especially the Venetians liked it a lot. I am definitely going back to Venice; I am working on something that is very close to my heart. The next time around, I'd like to be officially part of the Biennale. I must submit a project that must be accepted. We’ll see. At any rate, it's not all positive, there are rules to follow. I have enjoyed a lot of freedom up until now.”

In any case, it is certain that Quinn's foundry in Barcelona is working at full capacity. The artist loves to talk on social media about the time he spends in his workshop, melting, casting, and shaping while dealing with planes, sanders, and polishers. “The Arabian Gulf is an area that intends to invest a lot in culture and where a lot is happening. Things are getting done. I have a real stake in many of the issues under discussion, such as brotherhood, tolerance, and the collective fight against climate change. I look forward with great interest to the forthcoming COP 28 in Dubai. I am sure that art will have a lot to say on the matter.”

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