George Condo emerged onto the 1980s art scene in New York alongside the seminal figures of contemporary painting, such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Similar to the two young pioneers, Condo was critically engaged with creating and developing a new form of figurative painting, one that merged the representational and the abstract. Since the beginning of his career, Condo has pioneered a hybrid-topography of the human figure that allows his to explore the tenets of psychology and philosophy.
His art poses a fascinating dichotomy between its kitsch aesthetics and the serious deployment of oil painting. Drawing influence from expansive regions, Condo melds styles and motifs from different eras of art history. Renaissance portraiture, cubism, surrealism, comic books; Condo assimilates his references into striking, psychologically charged scenes: “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). Condo’s amalgam of art history and contemporary culture is utterly unique, his fragmented facial landscapes call to mind the genius of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.
The Existentialist introduces a nuanced approach for Condo, one that lends a deeper, philosophical reading of his art. As the title suggests, this is a distinctly introspective portrait, a reflection on existence. The host of characters in Condo’s oeuvre span the comedic to the hyper-sexual, yet the figure in the present work is particularly mysterious. Delicate brushstrokes blur the face, the figure is seemingly caught in a transitory moment, yet the contemplative gaze permeates through the haze. Furthermore, Condo’s idiosyncratic use of negative space is particularly key to the present work. Dark, brooding backgrounds dominate the majority of Condo’s portraits. Removing his characters from any sense of reality, he creates a void for his psychological explorations. Fusing traditions of art history with the anxieties of contemporary society, George Condo proves he is an artist of all-encompassing measure.
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