The Hand of God

Leading figurative sculptor Lorenzo Quinn was in Mumbai for his first solo show on the subcontinent hosted by Gallery Odyssey for its opening show. Lorenzo’s work is inspired by masters: Michelangelo, Bernini and Rodin. He’s best known for expressive recreations of human hands, with “Force of Nature” and “Hand of God” among his more widely recognised creations. Read on to find out more about this intriguing artist.
Who are the greats who inspire you?
I was inspired by the Italian grandmasters because I had the good fortune of growing up in Rome. The entire city is surrounded by incredible and amazing art by Michelangelo, Bernini and all the other masters. I was fond of Bernini in particular, and in fact I prefer his David to Michelangelo’s because of its movement. I was fascinated by the movement in his marble and sculptures. I just loved them.

Later, I got attracted to the great and wonderfulimagination of Salvador Dalí. Interestingly, I started as
a surrealist painter thanks to the influence of this great genius. Eventually, I realised that I had nothing new to bring to the field, so I switched to sculpture. What I love about sculpting is its three-dimensional aspect. Later on, I developed the fourth dimension, which is what surrounds a sculpture: the mystique and symbolism of a piece.


What’s your personal style like?
I think art is really communication. The reason why I do this is because I’ve got things to say, and of course I want to have a dialogue with people; it’s not a monologue. If I have things to say, I need for them to be understood. Therefore, most of my subjects are inspired by everyday life, which can be identified by all of us, no matter what gender or race or belief we are from. I try to touch on subjects that are universal: life, death and passion. One very important aspect is symbolism, and I like to use poetry in my art to communicate those feelings. I’m always looking for the positive; what unites people, not what divides them.
How was it travelling to India for the show?
I was particularly excited about this show as I’d never been to India. I’m 49 years old, and so I was accomplishing two dreams: to travel to India, and to have an art show in Mumbai in a most wonderful setting. In fact, through Halcyon Gallery in London (which is my mother gallery), we have many artists from India who pass through the city, and some live there. We’ve had a wonderful response.
Tell us a story about your favourite work.
One of my favourite pieces is “Hand of God”, which really got me using poetry for the rest of my sculptures and the rest of my artistic life. There was a beautiful poem of that time written by an unknown author but claimed by many. It’s called “Footprints in the Sand”, and I was very inspired by it, so I decided to dedicate a sculpture to it. This piece made a before-and-after link in my career. It created a wonderful symbiosis between poetry and art, and the perfect way to communicate with people; a way for them to understand what I wanted to say through a 3D sculpture.


Which is your favourite medium?
A lot of people who don’t know the processes of sculpting think that we actually work in bronze, but we don’t. That’s the casting process, which is called last wax. What we work with is either clay or plasteline, which is water-based while clay is not. One dries and the other doesn’t. I love both, but I usually work with plasteline because I travel a lot on work, and sometimes I’m away from the studio for long periods. Clay would dry up and crack, therefore I don’t use it as much, but I love working with it whenever I can. Of course, I work with marble; I adore it. Marble is more about taking away, while plasteline and clay are about adding on. I probably prefer modelling to chiselling and chipping away.
What impact do art and sculpture have on public places and society?
One thing about art is it’s always been a part of society in one way or another. In the last century, art was used to tell stories like the newspapers and TVs of today. That’s how people got to learn about history. Nowadays, it’s more of an individualistic expression from the artist or the commissioning body. But I believe that a public sculpture should speak to people. I don’t like sculptures where people are not allowed to get up close and personal with it.
I adore the fact that people are able to touch all my work; that it is a part of everyday life and society. I like to see children climbing on them and taking photos. It’s important for a public sculpture to have a universal subject. I’m not a great believer of art that’s just around the corner, but nobody looks or interacts with it. It feels sad, as I know what an artist went through to make that. I feel that a public sculpture has to have harmony in it. It has to be like a magnet.
What are your five best pieces?
Every artist, when he looks back upon his work, would like to change things. I think sculpture is part of a period of an artist that represents that moment in life. Too many times I’ve made conscious decisions not to change something, even though I felt that I could have done it better. I also feel that one of the important things is that we have to keep on creating, and therefore move on to next piece. I have done some pieces that you can call successful or popular by demand; people have asked me to make them bigger or smaller. These are probably “Force of Nature”, which has a wide appeal, as well as “Hand of God” and quite a few others.