Sarah Crew for The Bulletin - 25 March 2020
Belgian contemporary artist Arne Quinze has donated a large-scale painting to his local hospital in Ghent as a thank you to health workers during the coronavirus crisis.
“I want to reach out to all the healthcare workers risking their lives for our sanity during these bizarre times. I'd like to introduce a positive message by bringing an exuberant wealth of colour to the world," said the internationally-renowned artist.
The 3.4m x 5.6m painting, Wildflower Garden, was donated to the AZ Jan Palfijn hospital in Ghent. Quinze, who lives in nearby Sint-Martens-Latem, was inspired to pick up his paintbrush when he saw cloths and sheets hanging from peoples windows. “It was such a very nice gesture as a thank you to all the nurses, doctors and cleaning crews who try so hard,” he said.
“As an artist, I perceive a white sheet as a blank canvas and an opportunity to create and explore beauty. But for me, a white canvas is an empty canvas that has to be filled in,” added Quinze.
He also felt frustrated during the period of public confinement. “And because I felt quite useless the past few days and sitting still is nothing for me, I decided to work day and night on a large painting with wild flowers. I hope my painted 'sheet' can contribute to the massive support that these courageous health workers deserve," he said.
While Quinze used a linen sheet for his painting of exuberant blooms, the conceptual artist is a dab hand at working with mixed media. As well as drawings, paintings and sculpture, he has a global reputation for public art and massive urban installations.
In Belgium, his large-scale works include the Rock Strangers sculpture in Ostend and two former installations in the centre of Brussels, Cityscape (2007) and The Sequence (2008). The latter were among his trademark works using apparently haphazardly-layered wooden planks. A similar installation, The Passenger, was created for the Mons 2015 European Capital of Culture.