Header Image: BETHINK THYSELF, 2020.
There is so much to see when looking at Patrick Quarm’s paintings. Each square inch of his canvas is filled with so many details that absorb the onlooker upon first viewing. Quarm infuses aspects of his culture, like the African wax print fabric that he literally weaves throughout his painting. The art explores the complicated history of this now iconic African fabric with its colonial past.
But Quarm’s works are best viewed in person. As vibrant as his paintings can be on screen, it is the three-dimensional aspect of his paintings that truly makes them special. As a Black man living in Africa and the United States, his works reflect the layered reality of his life. Cutouts in the first layer of the painting give a sneak peek at what lays underneath. Only when the viewer approaches the painting from a different angle could they finally glimpse the entirety of the second painting.
His layered painting is Quarm’s version of archeology. Just like field archeology digs through layers of earth to find bits and pieces of history, Quarm’s paintings both hide and highlight aspects of both history and culture. The result is a hybrid in our collective mind of what history — and Quarm’s paintings —looks like.