GEORGE CONDO (B. 1957)
GEORGE CONDO (B. 1957)
GEORGE CONDO (B. 1957)
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PROPERTY FROM A PROMINENT PRIVATE COLLECTION
GEORGE CONDO (B. 1957)

Red Screaming Woman

Details
GEORGE CONDO (B. 1957)
Red Screaming Woman
signed and dated ‘Condo 2019’ (upper left)
oil and pigment stick on linen
193 x 188 cm. (76 x 74 in.)
Painted in 2019
Provenance
Skarstedt Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2019

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Lot Essay

‘[The works] are about the freedom of line and colour and blur the distinction between drawing and painting…They are about the beauty and horror walking hand in hand. They are about the improvisation on the human figures and its consciousness. ’—George Condo

Incarcerated in a psychologically charged torrent of scarlet paint, George Condo’s Red Screaming Woman is an enthralling example of Condo’s celebrated practices that subvert the integrity of the portraiture with a whimsical and ludicrous new context. Executed in 2019, the present work shifts away from the artist’s more carefully composed portrait from the 90s and accentuates its mismatched complexity through the use of both oil and pigment sticks. The conflicting emotional associations of rage and exhilaration cascaded through the artist’s virtuoso handling of these materials in the billowy and luxurious brushwork. The psychological drama of Red Screaming Woman is evident in the disproportioned eye, the rigid rows of teeth and the overly elongated neck where the voluminous hair fiddles with—this larger-than-life bust-length female portrait greets the viewer with its puzzling head that probed into the multitude of human subconscious. Through the viscosity of singular charcoal dark lines, Condo galvanises this grinning visage in a glimpse of the kaleidoscopic web of human emotion which he termed as ‘psychological cubism’.

Tapping into the great repertoire of Western art history, Condo forges his unique form of contemporary portraiture with his own insight into contemporary psychological states. As Margrit Brehm observes, ‘[he] makes frequent reference to the works of Velázquez and Manet, but also to Greuze and Fragonard, Delacroix and Goya, and repeatedly to Picasso. What interests him are how paintings function, how illusions are created, and how stories are told. Yet however important this reference to tradition is, it does not determine the primary appearance of his works’ (M. Brehm, “Tradition as Temptation. An Approach to the ‘George Condo Method’”, in T. Kellein, George Condo: One Hundred Women, exh. cat., Salzburg, Museum der Moderne, 2005, pp. 19-20). Every Condo’s painting is an attempt to form and present a subject that is at once reminiscing and estranges from the historical imagery. The viewer identifies the visual tropes yet is hard-pressed to make any clear connection. As in Red Screaming Woman, the bold and primitive black lines bring to mind those rigid contours that coalesce forms in Klee's and Picasso's works from the 1930s, while the brilliant paintwork—from splashes to heavy brushstrokes—recalls the action paintings of Pollock and de Kooning that stressed the importance of the physical act of painting in the creative process. In Condo’s own words, ‘People might say that one of my paintings looks like Guston meets Monet in a Picasso format in Cézanne’s world, but ultimately I consider it to be just about the knowledge of painting’, he explains. ‘You want to reach a point where your work is the total of everything that ever happened to you’(G. Condo, quoted in George Condo: Artificial Realism, exh. cat. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2008, p. 72).

‘Attention is what Condo's figures initially demand, located as they are between the grotesque and the comic, protagonists caught between comedy and tragedy. Only on closer observation does the degree emerge to which his way of painting, his composition and his concept of the figure govern the actual attraction of his paintings, and how complex and independent is his engagement with a very personal tradition.’——Margrit Brehm

Ushering an exceptional metamorphic approach of figuration, Red Screaming Woman displays Condo’s most principal touchstones ranging from Old Master portraits to Picasso’s cubism to Bacon’s corporeal figures or even cartoon references. Since the 1980s, Condo has been actively engaged in the launch of a new form of figurative painting that merged the figurative and the abstract in the New York art scene. Alongside key figures like Haring and Basquiat, Condo is notable for his hybridisation of art historical influences, in which he fuses Old Master subject matter with the distorted geometric perspective of Cubism, ‘artificial realism’ and ‘psychological cubism’. ‘I believe that painting needs to transform in order for it to become interesting for each and every generation, but I think of it more in terms of being liberated by history. Liberated by what has come before’ (G. Condo, quoted in R. Rugoff, The Enigma of Jean Louis”, George Condo: Existential Portraits, Berlin 2006, p. 7). Condo’s method of hypothesising and manipulating traditional figurative elements through an abstract lens has inevitably established him as one of the eminent figurative painters around the turn of the century, yet beneath his fluid gestural expression, the unshakable respect and affection for those artists who came before him remain.

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