Tag Archive | George Condo

Modern Art Monday Presents: Willem De Kooning, Woman and Bicycle

Woman and Bicycle
Photo By Gail

A leading artist among the Abstract Expressionists, Willem de Kooning never believed that abstraction and representation were mutually exclusive. As he stated: “I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it–drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea.” Woman and Bicycle, one of a series of “Woman” paintings he made between 1950 and 1953, depicts a standing woman, whose form is clearly visible despite the painterly integration of her body into the surrounding field of non-objective marks. Although the female figure is one of the most traditional subjects in the history of art, the woman in de Kooning’s painting distinctly belongs to the 1950s. Her bright yellow dress, high heels, and garish smile — with a second toothy grin hanging below it like a necklace — reflect the glamorous pin-up girls and movie stars of the period.

Photographed in the Whitney Museum in NYC.

Paul Insect, 2033: Original Works Created in 2014 at Allouche Gallery

Paul Insect
All Photos By Gail

Geoffrey and I were trying to figure out why the address of 115 Spring Street sounded so familiar, and yet neither one of us could recall having been to the Allouche Gallery, which resides at that address, prior to the Paul Insect exhibit, the opening reception of which we attended on Saturday night. Once we walked in the door, however, we recognized the space as having formerly been the  home of Opera Gallery — which, who even knew that it had closed? Obviously, not us.  RIP Opera Gallery. I do not miss you that much.

Paul Insect

I like Paul Insect’s work a lot. To bring up a reference from Pop Culture, his unique portraits remind me a lot of the costumes and make-up designed, worn and made infamous by the late Leigh Bowery.

Allouche Gallery Bar
Hey, Free Wine!

And if you are going to reference another contemporary painter doing something similar, perhaps George Condo comes to mind as well, although I prefer Insect over Condo.

Paul Insect

The exhibit’s press release simply states that “Paul Insect’s 2033, Original Works Created in 2014, features a series of striking new montage works on canvas and paper, projecting a world in which people want more, thrive to be the best and pretend to be who they are not.” I like that. Here are more of our favorites from the show.

Paul Insect Diptych

This Diptych (above) and the trio (below) are a little bit different stylistically from the others.

Paul Insect Trio

Paul Insect Abstract

This one has maybe a bit more of a collage feel to it. I love his use of bright colors.

Paul Insect

This one reminds me of Me and Geoffrey when we go out looking at the Art.

Paul Insect

Paul Insect Installation View

Here is a bit more of an installation view. It really is a very nice space.

Paul Insect

The Red in this is just remarkable, although it doesn’t translate in the photograph. It is one of my favorite pieces in the show for sure!

Go see this exhibit, because it is awesome.

Paul Insect, 2033 will be on Exhibit Through January 11th, 2015 at Allouche Gallery, Located at 115 Spring Street in Soho.

Paul Insect

George Condo’s Double Heads, Black Paintings, Abstractions at Skarstedt Gallery

George Condo
All Photos By Gail

My first exposure to George Condo’s highly recognizable style of painting happened when I saw his 2010-2011 exhibit, Mental States, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. I thought the show was pretty cool, but I can totally understand how some might consider his artwork to be an acquired taste.

People who don’t go to art galleries and museums — if they know Condo at all —  probably know him as the artist who took a $40,000 Hermes Birkin Bag that Kanye West bought as a gift for Kim Kardashian and, at West’s request, “ruined” (not my words) it by custom painting a group of nude figures on the bag’s exterior. My feeling on the matter is that if you can afford to buy Birkin Bags, you can afford to have one custom painted by George Condo. Because, why not? Condo has also painted the artwork for a number of West’s CDs. That is nice work if you can get it, I am sure.

If you’re lucky enough to live in NYC, you can see a series of Condo’s new, large canvas paintings over at Skarstedt Gallery right now! The exhibit is entitled Double Heads / Black Paintings / Abstractions, and these paintings were created in 2014 at the artist’s East Hampton studio. Impressive!

George Condo Double Head

Condo’s Double Heads and Black Paintings continue his investigation of the concept of portraiture. In these most recent works, Condo has adopted Harold Rosenberg’s idea of ‘action painting’ —  a term used to describe the performative, often volatile energy exercised by Abstract Expressionist painters like de Kooning and Pollock — to create his own ‘action portraits.’ Through an elaborate process of layering, erasure, and reconstruction, shattered images of faces and bodies emerge from and interact within a field of abstract forms. This makes sense  when you know that Condo, being well versed in art history, often references known artists by adopting their styles and techniques into his work.

George Condo Double Head

Incorporating the use of silver metallic paint in Double Portrait in Grisaille on Silver, 2014, and other works in this series, Condo references Warhol’s silver paintings from the 1960’s such as Double Elvis. After preparing a ground of silver paint on canvas, Condo applies ivory black onto loose sheets of paper, which is then transferred onto the canvasses, giving them the look and surface quality of a screen print. He then creates a schism in this form by subsequently employing the traditional technique of grisaille to draw out the figures by hand.

George Condo Double Head

In creating such large-scale paintings in a very confined studio space, Condo has been forced to work ‘inside’ his paintings, addressing both subject and material at close range — never stepping too far back from the canvas to allow the image in his mind to entirely materialize. Both gestural improvisation and concrete imagery are evident as he forcefully pushes and pulls the paint around the surface of the canvas until a final image emerges, fully formed yet haunted by the process of its becoming. In Beginnings, 2014, a large square format painting, a single eye peers out from the devastation of what at one time might have been a full portrait. This process of addition, subtraction and layering evokes a visceral response to both the handling of paint and the subject of the painting.

George Condo Double Head

Partially obscured by violent brush marks, the likenesses of the figures and characters in Condo’s paintings are integrations of forms that the brushwork fractures. Facial features peek out from underneath fields of color as broad strokes of bold black and white paint shatter the pictorial plane. The simultaneous multiple expressions of his portraits speak to the volatility of human emotions and the unpredictability — even hilarity — of the characters one encounters in urban life.

George Condo Double Head

The abstract works in this exhibition fluctuate between the lyrical and the hysterical, building upon the cacophony of interacting forms for which Condo is known. In Silver Mass, 2014, as well as several other works on view, Condo extends the lineage of his series of abstract ‘expanding canvasses’, which began in the early 1980’s, to invent ever new painterly forms and hints of human expression.

Double Heads / Black Paintings / Abstractions by George Condo will be on view through December 20th, 2014 at Skarstedt Gallery, Located at 550 W. 21st Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

George Condo Signage with Orchid