Published in 2019 on Art Viewer
There is art that confirms, and there is art that disrupts. With a heavy hand (provocative), or gently. Quist is an artist who disrupts gently. Ever since I have known his work, I have been struck by a strange attraction that, in part, is that I never fully understand the work. In Quist’s work each work seems to set its own rules.
Don’t expect an elevator pitch or a sales chat. As soon as you try to name something in Quist’s work, you realize that you leave a lot unmentioned that is just as important. Perhaps it is a lack of hierarchy. Every node in the network is equally important. Substantive connections between the nodes are transferred transitively. Disparate matters are a-hierarchically linked – a pencil line on a work, a floor, a title or the absence of a work. It is up to the viewer to make a story out of it, while the artist leads. Gently.
In my view, Quist’s work is close to Rorty’s ironism. We are not talking about irony in the form of mockery or humor (although humor is not lacking in Quist’s work), but a deep-rooted awareness of the coincidences of existence, and the impossibility of ever developing a vocabulary that can fully summarize (public or private) reality. Ironic figures of speech may transfer reality more precisely than descriptive language.
Quist makes me – a disrupted viewer – aware of my role in the exhibition. Sometimes he does this quite literally – in the form of an installation or intervention. In his first solo at the gallery, he installed a metal grid structure on the floor, made of of raised metal strips. The viewer had to consciously navigate through the space, stepping over the metal edges.
In the current exhibition there is also an installation element on the floor. This time however, the unsuspecting visitor might not notice the work immediately. Quist has installed a laminate floor with a wood motif and thus transformed the exhibition space into a neat, somewhat museum-like showroom. In colour tone, the floor is similar to that of Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar.
A copy of Dutch art magazine Metropolis M is inserted into the floor. In the magazine cover, Quist has laser-cut a text: “call me hysterical but cri …