This exhibition is the impressive New York solo debut for the hot-shot Brit Pack sculptor Marc Quinn. On view are 10 large works that deal with epic themes of life, growth, metamorphosis and death. Quinn's work is comparable to that of contemporaries such as Kiki Smith and his much-hyped compatriot Damien Hirst. But Quinn's work is far more engaging than that of Hirst, whose solo debut last year in the same space was something of a dud. While both British artists share certain themes in their work, Quinn avoids the pitfalls of the Pop ironies and clichés that seem to motivate Hirst. Using unorthodox materials and techniques, Quinn produces body-oriented works that are firmly situated on art-historical ground.
In certain pieces, such as Eternal Spring (Lilies) I and Eternal Spring (Red) I, Quinn betrays an almost romantic sensibility. Here, refrigerated glass cases each contain a frozen bouquet of flowers. The blossoms' fresh-cut look is totally dependent on technology. During the course of the show, the plug was pulled on the later piece, and, according to one witness, the flowers turned completely black in just a few minutes.
A floor piece titled Intuitive Morphology is a work that appears to be made of puddles of mercury in the shapes of human faces (it's actually silver glass). This work, like many others on view, deals with the process of metamorphosis. In the eloquent wall-hung piece, The Great Escape, a yellow rubber mold of the artist's body hangs from the ceiling like an enormous banana peel. It suggests a cocoon from which a huge butterfly has just emerged.
Marc Quinn at Gagosian (May 29-July 2), 136 Wooster, New York, New York 10012.