artist / participant
To inaugurate the opening of the new Berlin gallery, Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are delighted to present large format drawings by the American artist George Condo.
Condo’s works is marked by the unification of perceived contradictions; it combines the formal language of classical painting such as Diego Velazquez and Pablo Picasso with the aesthetics of modern cartoons and mass media. While Condo refrains from citing images directly, subtly integrating art historical references into his own image world, his work is unique. Condo contaminates the legacy of the art historical canon through dark humor and the grotesque.
The drawing ‘Jesus and the Cross’ incorporates one of the oldest iconographies of Western art history. Highly influenced by the post-Cubist style of Picasso, this abstract portrait brings together a wide range of visual references stretching from the Christian symbolism of the Cross to primitive impressions of cartoon characters and textile prints. The face of the main figure is divided by a phallic form. While it would be easy to interpret this portrait as an ironic comment on Christian belief, Condo is far from ridiculing religion. By re-contextualising the subject of Jesus through contemporary imagery, Condo seeks not only to present an experience of devotion and grief but also of the extreme, hysteria and absurdity.
The eight drawings in the exhibition are diverse interpretations of the portrait as a traditional genre. While ‘The Tailor’ undermines the idea of the classical portrait, Condo composed ‘Faces in My Head’ in the form of an ornamental tapestry of abstract faces. The vibrancy of colour in these works contrasts with yet also compliments the black and white drawings ‘The Cabinet Maker’s Family’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’.
After studying fine art Condo worked as a studio employee at Andy Warhol’s Factory. He then moved to Cologne, Germany, where his association with the artists Walter Dahn and Jiri Dokupil of the group ‘Junge Wilde’ marked a shift in his practice. Condo has been showing with Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers gallery since 1984. He lives and works in New York.
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