George Condo Existential Portraits

26 January4 March 2006

6 rue St-Georges | St-Jorisstraat

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On Thursday, 26 January, from 6 to 9 p.m., Xavier Hufkens has pleasure in inviting you to attend the opening of “Existential Portraits”, a first solo exhibition at the gallery by the American painter George Condo. The exhibition will include new paintings and drawings as well as recent sculptures.

For over twenty years, American artist George Condo (° 1957, Concord, New Hampshire, USA) has been a constant presence on the western art scene. At the age of 21, he worked at Andy Warhol’s Factory and quickly connected with artists of his generation such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel. With them, he played an important role in the international renewal of painting.
In 1983 he travelled for the first time to Europe, where his paintings awakened the interest of the German “Neue Wilde”. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Condo found himself working over longer periods of time in Cologne as well as Paris. Condo has lived and worked in New York since 1982. Prominent young painters as John Currin and Glenn Brown appear to have been influenced by him.

The grotesque, tradition-conscious paintings by George Condo, which sometimes almost resemble the Old Masters and the Surrealists, have brought him a reputation as a painter’s painter. Condo’s role models and partners in dialogue range from Goya and Velazquez to Picasso. When George Condo paints portraits, his beings aren’t exactly human, however human their form. They are related to the quasi-human figures that first made their appearance in the paintings of de Chirico and the analytic cubist portraits by Picasso. In general, Condo’s subjects are classically posed, dramatically lit and placed into vague empty settings to better project them. Their entire world and inner life, however, derive completely from the imagination of the artist.

The paintings in “Existential Portaits” consist largely of a number of invented characters. Jean-Louis seems to be a main figure in these. You might imagine him to be a French aristocrat who has a driver, a chef, several maids,… and relatives who likewise belong to Condo’s cast of portraits. Not unlike the undeveloped backgrounds, the broadly categorized titles (“French Maid”, “Playboy Bunny”,…) and imagery are vague enough to suggest archetypes; personages who, according to the strong satiric tradition in Condo’s work, are mercilessly ridiculed and attacked because of their social conformism.

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