Two monumental hands — one male, one female — rise six metres over the entrance to the DIFC’s Gate Village, perched on top of two tall plinths.
Titled Together, it was created by Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn as an expression of the world’s isolation during the pandemic, highlighting the human longing for physical touch.
Joined by two other pieces from Quinn, and 70 more by regional and international artists, including Anthony James, Azza Al Qubaisi, Melis Buyruk and Oskar Zieta, Together is part of the DIFC’s latest Sculpture Park exhibition, titled Tales Under the Gate.
Scroll through images of the DIFC Sculpture Park exhibition below
Richard Hudson’s Unwind at the DIFC Sculpture Park, part of the new exhibition titled Tales Under the Gate. All photos: Khushnum Bhandari / The National
Quinn, who is the son of actor Anthony Quinn, also currently has a solo exhibition entitled Now and Forever at Leila Heller Gallery at Alserkal Avenue, comprising of a collection of new and past works.
“I’ve been wanting to do a show in Dubai for the longest time ever. So finally, here it is. My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner,” Quinn tells The National.
Like Together, Quinn’s solo exhibition shows his preoccupation with creating universally accessible pieces addressing themes such as unity over separation, harmony over chaos and love over hate.
“We’re constantly pulled in different directions every day,” Quinn says.
“My work is a lot about balancing two worlds, two wants, working with opposites, and the fight between good and evil. There’s unfortunately a lot of evil in the world, a lot of hate. And I like to fight that with love. I’m not afraid about talking about love and how important it is.”
Although Quinn often creates 20-metre-tall explorations of the human form, his Dubai exhibitions focus specifically on the motif of hands. Throughout his solo show, colossal golden fingers tangle into one another, holding up symbols of love. As visitors walk through the space, words like “patience”, “forever” and “spirit” morph into silver and golden hues, evolving into other expressions and creating a constant sense of novelty and surprise.
The artist says that even the most subtle hand gestures can communicate nuanced ideas in profound and universal ways — ideas he has expressed through exhibitions in Venice, New York, Cannes and, now, Dubai.
“It’s amazing how really complex they are, and how graceful they can be, and how many different things you can express, like age, love, anger,” he says.
While anatomically accurate and precise, Quinn’s hands, especially in Together, are also infused with a sense of whimsy, lightness and surrealism — creating a balance of realism and intrigue.
“We’re human, which means that we’re not perfect,” Quinn says. “Perfection sometimes can be banal and so I look for something that is attractive and not banal.”
Together was first shown in Cannes and then at Forever is Now in Egypt, for the first contemporary art event held at the Pyramids of Giza. Quinn says his Egyptian exhibition was visited by 550,000 people in a single month with a total online reach of 2.5 billion views.
Mindful of respecting the world heritage site, Quinn completely adapted his process and choice of materials.
“I decided to do it with this wire mesh because it’s so light,” he says.
“During the daytime, it’s almost transparent. I couldn’t block off the pyramids. Out of respect, how could you think of making something solid?”
While in Egypt, the two hands came together to mirror the shape of the pyramids, in Dubai they echo Emirates Towers, which stand in the background, joined by another of Quinn’s works, titled Give.
Give depicts two hands filled with soil, complete with a real olive tree. Aside from the symbolism of olive trees, which represent peace and forgiveness, the work is also a nod to sustainability and the environment, another constant theme in Quinn’s work.
“I’m not a politician. So I don’t have an agenda,” he says. “It’s about reaching out to people in a simple way and making them understand complex situations and messages in a more direct way.”
Another of his latest works on display at the DIFC’s Sculpture Park is Love-Dubai from his Morphing Words series.
Similar to other pieces in his solo exhibition, the sculpture is a play on words, shifting into various words depending on which perspective one views it from.
“When I start making a sculpture, I write some words down,” says Quinn. “When people are commissioning an artwork, I ask them what they would like the work to express. They say love, appreciation, empathy or whatever message it might be. I then use those words, and develop them into a sentence or phrase.”
At the start of last year, Quinn started to look at the words he used as inspiration for his figurative and hand sculptures as sculptures themselves, exploring how they could simultaneously exist in 3D form.
“These messages have a duality in them. Most of my sculptures have that duality,” he says.
“There’s the male or the female, there’s two hands. Very seldom do I have a single figure. So in the words I am basically doing the same, but not in a figurative way. It’s still all Lorenzo.”