Art & Culture
Step Inside the Picture Gallery Conceived by Contemporary Artist George Condo

Art is for everyone

George Condo has been a pivotal figure of American contemporary art, worked for Andy Warhol, calls Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquait his good friends and designed album covers for Kanye West and Travis Scott. His innate ability to piece together contradictory visual images and contradicting norms has cemented him as a pioneer of contemporary art. And while the development of creative fields such as art, music, fashion, design and architecture can be independent, they often co-exist and influence each other intimately, much like Condo’s work, whose realms of imagination, ability to evolve and adapt, as well as intersect high and mass culture, is strikingly inspirational.

American contemporary artist George Condo
Portrait of George Condo | © George Condo | Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

In late September 2021, Long Museum (West Bund) will present the largest solo exhibition by George Condo in Asia, The Picture Gallery. It will bring together more than 90 paintings made throughout the artist’s career and will debut a new series of large-scale canvases made specifically for this presentation. Curated by Massimiliano Gioni, the exhibition focuses on some of the most important cycles and bodies of works that have defined Condo’s art since the late 1970s, when he was among the first to herald a critical return to painting after decades of conceptual art practices.

George Condo | The Portable Artist | 1995 | Oil on canvas | 195 x 183 cm / 76 3/4 x 72 inches | © George Condo | Private Collection | Photo: Kevin Todora
George Condo | Lost in Time | 2018 | Oil on linen | 289.6 x 289.6 cm / 114 x 114 inches | © George Condo | Christen Sveaas Art Collection | Photo: John Berens

In the early 1980s, Condo’s specific approach to painting combined influences from Cubism, Surrealism, and other 20th-century avant-garde movements with cartoon characters and vernacular imagery, inaugurating a new kind of figuration which he defined as “artificial realism”. In tandem with his artistic style, which he describes as “Rembrandt painting Bugs Bunny”, he takes viewers on a voyage though his 40 years of stunning virtuosity. In his vast oeuvre, “fake old masters paintings,” as the artist describes them, coexist with his maddening explorations of the human psyche, while figuration and abstraction are woven into tapestries of signs and symbols that find inspiration in the work of experimental writers and musicians. Organized according to series and cycles – including rarely seen works along with some of the artist’s most celebrated paintings – the exhibition underscores Condo’s fascination with the world of music and of melodrama in particular.

George Condo | Yankee Doodle | 2003 | Oil on canvas | 152.4 x 127 cm / 60 x 50 inches | © George Condo | Private Collection | Photo: Martin Parsekian

George Condo: The Picture Gallery
Long Museum (West Bund), Shanghai, China
From September 25 to November 28, 2021

Words: Emily Leung & Nikey Cheng
Published on August 12, 2021