GEORGE CONDO (USA, B. 1957)
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
GEORGE CONDO (USA, B. 1957)

Abstract Figure Composition

Details
GEORGE CONDO (USA, B. 1957)
Abstract Figure Composition
signed and dated ‘Condo 98.2’ (upper right); signed, titled and dated ‘Condo “Abstract Figure Composition” Feb 98’ (on the reverse)
acrylic, oil, pastel and paper on canvas
152.7 x 193.4 cm. (60 1/8 x 76 1/8 in.)
Executed in 1998
Provenance
Pace Gallery, New York
Fabien Fryns Fine Art
Private Collection, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Kimmy Lau
Kimmy Lau

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Lot Essay

‘The only way for me to feel the difference between every other artist and me is to use every artist to become me’

George Condo


George Condo’s Abstract Figure Composition (1998) is an explosion of abstract and figurative form, alive with a polyphony of art-historical voices. Picasso-esque female nudes are brought forth in bold, swooping black line. They overlay a colourful ground of facets and shards of colour, and, in a rare instance of collage, jostle with panels of dripped abstraction that recall the work of Jackson Pollock. Strangely eared heads, scrawled outlines and skull-like faces echo the language of cartoon and graffiti, and even the nervy figures of Jean-Michel Basquiat. This thrilling conglomeration of styles verges on the chaotic, but is held together by a symphonic poise of composition: Condo studied Music Theory along with Art History at university, and his pictures are structured with a distinctly musical logic. Fracturing and fragmenting historical modes of painting, he aims to express interior emotional consciousness as well as exterior appearance in a single image, and to elicit the recognition of multiple, simultaneous planes in the viewer. Picasso, a clear influence on the present work, has remained a key touchstone throughout Condo’s career-long dialogue with art history. ‘I describe what I do,’ he has said, ‘as psychological cubism. Picasso painted a violin from four different perspectives at one moment. I do the same with psychological states’ (G. Condo, quoted in S. Jeffries, ‘George Condo: “I was delirious. Nearly died”’, The Guardian, 10 February 2014).

In works like Abstract Figure Composition, which can be seen in relation to such early masterpieces as Diaries of Milan (1984) (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and Dancing to Miles (1985) (The Broad Collection), Condo doesn’t focus on a single portrait character, but instead packs the picture plane with interlocking and overlaid bodies, lines and abstract fields, improvising like a jazz soloist to create all-over visions that look as if they could expand beyond the canvas to infinity. Deconstructing and reconstituting the domains of abstraction and figuration, Condo explores not only his own relationship to the painters of the past, but also how we build our own self-images, and how we situate ourselves in relation to others and the world around us. Central to his way of working, similarly, is the idea that no painting can exist in isolation: he has said that ‘The only way for me to feel the difference between every other artist and me is to use every artist to become me’ (G. Condo, quoted in S. Jeffries, ‘George Condo: “I was delirious. Nearly died”’, The Guardian, 10 February 2014). Filtering and hybridising the art of the past through his own kaleidoscopic lens, Condo forges painting anew, conjuring unique and surprising new ways of seeing.

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