The Accidental Empires series by painter Matthew Quick investigates the power behind monuments and effectively undermines their seriousness. Well known monuments from around the world are altered with mundane objects such as cell phone tower antennas or clotheslines. However, the simple contrast between the commonplace and monumental is jarring. It undermines the grand stories behind the memorials and questions their purpose. In his statement, Quick says: “The ebb and flow of Empires can be determined by the monuments they leave. Periods of optimism are punctuated by statues that mythologise the success of the enterprise. Times of tragedy are marked by similarly mythologised affirmations of resilience, bravery and triumph over the odds. In time, these myths come to define the events themselves.”
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The inspiration for the series ‘Accidental Empires’ by Matthew Quick, was the fall and rise of Empires in the history. ‘When the US seized Baghdad, the soldiers celebrated by destroying art. Removing contemporary politics, this destruction illustrates how little has changed psychologically in the 1500 years since the barbarian sack of Rome. With one notable difference. Rome was destroyed by uneducated warriors. In Baghdad, the event was stage-managed for TV’, he explains. His series shows ancient sculptures with odd requisites, which put them in a completely different light while depriving their solemn seriousness. The arising ironic undertone provides the perfect foundation for a revisionist take on the notions of beauty, pride, and nationalism.
Matthew Quick’s paintings layer meanings to convey insights into contemporary culture. Within
his amalgamation of the landscape, realist and surrealist traditions, Quick creates visual metaphors and contradictions that exude a unique imaginative realm. In ‘Accidental Empires,’ statues commemorating past victories by colonial powers, are refigured as props for the artist’s take on history’s unfolding narrative of power and corruption.
Quick explains; “Accidental Empires was inspired by footage of US soldiers celebrating their taking of Baghdad by destroying some art. Removing contemporary politics and looking from an artistic and historical context, this destruction illustrates how little has changed psychologically in the 1500 years since the sacking of Rome.”