The Beginning of new Condo
The new solo exhibition Ink Drawings from George Condo is currently on view at the Skarstedt Gallery in London through April 5th. This is Condo’s third solo show at Skarstedt and the first at the new London space, which follows his acclaimed retrospective George Condo: Mental States, at the Hayward Gallery, London in 2011 – 2012. The exhibition coincides with an ongoing exhibition at Simon Lee Gallery as an attempt to challenge the conventional view that painting is superior to drawing. Moreover, these two exhibitions somehow indicate the “death” and the “birth” of periods in Condo’s working practice. Marking a deliberate move away from the abstract tendencies of previous work, both shows herald the beginning of a new stylistic engagement with a traditional subject in which the drama of the works is intensified by their impressive scale.
Drawing and Painting
The new works on paper are realized over a six-month period, during which Condo has explored the relationship between the directness of drawing and the controlled methods of painting. George Condo nearly died last year, after contracting Legionnaire’s disease in Berlin. He ended up on a life support machine, but managed to survive. These two exhibitions tell a before-and-after story: at Skarstedt are the monumental, somber drawings he made before his illness; meanwhile, at Simon Lee are the fractured, a bit brighter portraits he made following his recovery. In Condo’s artistic career, drawing and works on paper have formed an important part. Continuing in the vein of Condo’s synthesis of both drawing and painting within his oeuvre, the concurrent exhibitions in London further the artist’s on-going exploration of both mediums.
In Condo’s words: ”My intention with this body of work was to explore the extreme possibilities of ink on paper. I used the medium to create transparent layers of colors. I thought of Rothko at times and his overlapping veils of transcendental space. I placed the figure into this kind of space and used lines to define their ambiguous presence in the void.”
This exceptional series of works on paper is characterized by the gestural freedom and spontaneity of drawing, return to the figurative in subject matter and dark palette dripping down the surface of the paper.
New York’s 80’s Art Scene
With a career spanning over three decades, George Condo is one of the leading talents to emerge out of the New York art scene in the 1980s. Alongside his contemporaries Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Condo was a key figure in the revival of painting and drawing as a vehicle for expression. A talented draughtsman and an adept handler of paint in the tradition of the old masters, in his new body of work, Condo continues to develop his highly distinctive and original style. The subject of major exhibitions at leading institutions worldwide, George Condo’s work has been exhibited at The New Museum, New York; Hayward Gallery, London; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam and the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt amongst others and is held in numerous important public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.