HESSE FLATOW is pleased to present, Promises, Quentin James McCaffrey’s New York solo debut exhibition.
McCaffrey’s worlds are of an arrested time, a stillness emphasizing the activity that is outside its borders. Using single-point perspective, layers of oil paint on panel or canvas, and a focus on light, he renders domestic interior spaces. His motionless interiors seek to call into question the narratives that become ingrained in one’s understanding of the world.
The stories we inherit and tell ourselves become a collection of myths. Often subconsciously, creating promises which we personally depend upon for navigating life. When these structures, principles, morals, traditions or ideas inevitably fail us, the promise is broken. McCaffrey uses the domestic interior as a symbolic space for these understandings, their promises and our experience of them.
McCaffrey’s paintings draw from Quattrocento Italian painting and 17th century Dutch interiors in their use of simple geometry, symbolism, as well as in their stoicism. In western painting, the domestic interior has been a place for investigating the psyche and intimate relationships. Referencing the nostalgia of 19th century academic painting, his paintings allow a space for questioning the forgetful serenity often depicted and acknowledges an undercurrent of a more complex reality. Drawing a parallel between intimate personal experience and imperfect historic narratives, he compares the domestic and psychological interior, and how they are mutually symbolic and influential.
McCaffrey uses cultural appropriation in western art and decoration as a general symbol for unconscious personal development in post-imperial international society. As development of society and the psyche straddle pastiche, compilation, and imitation, the lack of clarity of self becomes evidence of the internal psychological void and human state of fragility and vulnerability.
“By art alone can we get out of ourselves, find out what another person sees of this universe which is not the same as ours… Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world, we see it multiplied, and we have as many different worlds at or disposition as there are original artists.” (III, 895-96)
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time