Since the early 1980s, Condo has pioneered a hybrid-topography of the human figure, inventing a fictional schema as a means to explore the tenets of subjectivity. Born of an intense dialogue between art history and popular culture, Condo’s paintings conjure stylistic traits that are absorbed from a multitude of canonical influences. The artist’s first mature painting, The Madonna, 1982, an Old Master–style portrait, launched Condo on a career-long exploration of hybridised historical styles and genres. Spanning from Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Ingres, Manet, Goya, Velázquez, Géricault, to caricature, comics and the Looney Tunes, Condo draws from an enormous repository of pictorial signifiers, corporeally melding their protean features into a unique brand of psychologically charged portraiture. Yet, instead of merely copying these styles, Condo appropriates and internalises a multiplicity of pictorial languages to construct a new, contemporary vision of painting: “I love the idea of two incompatible worlds brought together – opposing forces harmonically melded” (George Condo cited in: Diane Solway, ‘Musings On A Muse’, W Magazine, January 2013, online). The resulting dichotomy of traditional artistic practice and eccentric subject matter has resulted in a dynamic collection of portraits in all shapes, forms, and colours.
The Pilot is strongly reminiscent of Cubism, the Twentieth Century artistic movement pioneered by great masters such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Characterised by a geometric distortion of the figure’s head, Condo rejects the inherent concept of purely-figurative portraiture and instead emphasises the two-dimensionality of the canvas' surface. The Pilot is composed of an eccentric amalgamation of shapes in various bright colours, creating a dynamic and visually alluring pattern. The two ovals for eyes and the small light-coloured squares for teeth are the sole indicators of this human face. The size of the figure’s mouse-like ears are emphasised through a repetition of larger circles, which are placed in stark contrast to the primarily straight-edged geometric forms which form the figure’s head. As the improvisation of drafting and the control of painting align, the abstract and the figurative join forces in a singular, exuberant blend of the artist’s signature motifs.
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