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Canadian University Dubai Hosts Italian Sculptor Lorenzo Quinn

by Eddie Rayner

Canadian University Dubai (CUD) has hosted renowned Italian sculptor, Lorenzo Quinn, in an exclusive conversation charting his evolution from film actor to figurative artist. Discussing his creative process, his commitment to sustainability, and his desire to connect people through art, Quinn revealed the challenges he faced as the son of an Oscar-winning Hollywood actor, and how he went on to make a name for himself as a globally celebrated sculptor. The event was staged in the presence of the Consul General of Italy, Francesca Dell’Apa, and the Consul General of the Netherlands, Carel Richter.

Visiting Dubai for his first solo exhibition in the city, Quinn spoke to CUD’s resident international concert pianist and CUD Instructor, Ms Sanaz Sotoudeh, on the theme ‘Art for a Greater Purpose’. Starting the conversation with reflections on his early life in Italy and the USA, Quinn said he was constantly challenged to prove his own talent in order to step out of the shadows of his father, the acclaimed actor, Anthony Quinn. While pursuing his education in both acting and art, Quinn took on a film role playing his idol, Salvador Dali, which he says inspired him to find his own artistic style.

Students hear from Quinn on creativity, sustainability, and connections

Explaining his creative process, Quinn revealed: “My art reflects what’s happening in the world; an event, a story, a conversation can inspire me to make a sculpture. I think about what I can do as an artist to try and help people, or to encourage others to act positively, for example, to take small actions towards being more sustainable, which can make a big difference to the future of our planet.”

In addition to his current solo exhibition at Leila Heller Gallery at Alserkal Avenue, Quinn is also displaying works at the DIFC Sculpture Park, including his iconic piece titled ‘Together’ featuring two hands united in physical touch. He explained: “A lot of my work focuses on hands, because there’s so much you can say through them, and they are universally recognised and accepted. I want to help people make a connection with art and all the pieces here in Dubai are sculptures that you can interact with, and I think it’s very important that viewers are able to do that.”

“I’ve witnessed the impact of climate change and it is terrifying to think that we are destroying the only place we can currently live”

With sustainability at the core of his sculptures, Quinn was chosen by United Nations Climate Change to create a three-metre version of his monumental sculpture ‘Support’ for the Climate Change Conference, COP25 in Madrid. The original piece was installed in Venice in 2017, to highlight the risk of rising sea levels. His creation, ‘The Greatest Goal’, which was unveiled at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, is the largest sculpture in the world to be made of recycled steel.

Explaining his motivation for sustainable art, Quinn said: “I’ve witnessed the impact of climate change and it is terrifying to think that we are destroying the only place we can currently live. I believe that art has the ability to reach people in a different way and to help them view and accept issues when they are not forced upon them. An image really can convey a thousand words and as an artist I want to use my work to raise awareness and to encourage people to act on environmental sustainability.”

The session concluded with Ms Sotoudeh performing two songs on the piano that were composed by Mr Quinn and by well-known Italian composer, Ludovico Einaudi. Speaking after the event, Ms Sotoudeh said: “It was a great honour to host Lorenzo Quinn and a wonderful opportunity for students to interact with a world-renowned sculpture artist, to gain insights into his creative process. Canadian University Dubai shares Mr Quinn’s commitment to sustainability and action on climate change, and it was an enlightening experience to see how these values can be portrayed and promoted through art.”