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Australian self-taught mixed media artist Saxon JJ Quinn opens his debut European solo show at Galleri Christoffer Egelund in Copenhagen.

Operating as a statement rather than a question, How Good is a Smile is an optimistic, staccato body of work that speaks with a quiet and optimistic confidence.

As expressed in the video above, shot by our dear friend Shane Fletcher, Quinn highlights the simplicity and impact a smile can have, be it from a loved one or a stranger.

Set amongst a sea of peach, salmon and oatmeal hues, Quinn’s artillery of characters diverge into conversation. A totem of faces flies towards a row of spindly flowers, its trajectory intersected by a spider web of pencil, connecting the eye to a red car speeding through the fog, emblazoned with the Nike swoosh. Like an absurd dream, the viewer is encouraged to make their own connections, linking characters with titles, redaction with the figurative and the past with the current.

Operating with a style forged over time, How Good is a Smile announces itself with a clarity that only comes from consistent refining and reworking. Bold figures dance alongside spidery childlike illustrations. Streaks of white float like icebergs on the roughened canvases, redacting portions of the work from the viewer and forming a multifaceted timeline or presence and thoughtfulness. And yet, the paintings do not feel overworked. When questioned on the origins of the title, Quinn explained:

“An authentic smile can be so hard at times, yet simple and easy at others. They can mean nothing and yet mean everything. When real, they can be powerful, warming, calming, reassuring, loving, joyful and healing.”

How Good is a Smile is the clarification of Quinn’s practice, one which shy’s away from perceived notions of coolness and returns to the healing power of a smile.

The exhibition is currently showing at Christoffer Egelund Gallery (Copenhagen, Denmark) and runs until 22nd March 2024.

Words by Lily Beamish

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