'Reworking outmoded pictorial techniques and styles in oil and varnish, he has fashioned a polyphonic terrain of cross-reference that ranges from the Renaissance to the Baroque, from Tex Avery cartoons to Cubism and Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop. Rather than being burdened by history, he seems liberated by it.' (R. Rugoff quoted in George Condo: Mental States, exh. cat., New York, New Museum, 2011, p. 11).
George Condo is a maverick in the contemporary art world. With today's audiences accustomed to large-scale installations, taxidermied animals and 'performance pieces' as accepted mediums of contemporary art, George Condo returns to us to the time-honoured tradition of figurative painting. While many artists have struggled to truly champion the medium since the declaration of the 'death of painting', Condo's vast oeuvre, spanning almost twenty-five years, boldly reasserts the significance of figuration and of painting as a medium within contemporary art. Beyond mere appropriation of art history, Condo unites the recognisable signifiers of Western art traditions into his own pictorial language, creating a unique figurative style.
Fusing together Renaissance-period iconography with carnival-esque twists of abstraction and colour, The Impossible Dream powerfully embodies the 'personal tradition' practiced by Condo, a simultaneous gesture of academicism and irreverence. Where other painters have suffered the weight of established artistic tradition, Condo's paintings appear to have unshackled themselves from any form of critical determinism. The bright yellow and soft pink and purple hues of the canvas seem incongruent with the discernable Madonna and Child motif in the centre, the traditional blue of the Virgin slowly disintegrating into the lower edge of the canvas. Yet, there is also something light-hearted and comedic about this painting: its apparent 'unpresentable' quality coalescing with a dream-like sensation of beauty, suggesting an imaginary space between order and disorder. This is not only a place, but a mental state where time is disrupted, and where the experience of the sublime begins.