George Condo’s eye-catching double bill

Shows at both Skarstedt and Simon Lee for the maverick New Yorker

Image: © George Condo, courtesy of Skarstedt

The chance to see and buy new work by maverick American artist George Condo is a carpe diem moment – no matter whether your acquaintance with his thought-provoking style began in the 1980s when, along with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, he kick-started a painting revival, or more recently, when he created five covers for Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Image: © George Condo, courtesy of Skarstedt

Nine new, monumental works on paper ($150,000-$250,000) that blur the distinction between drawing and painting are the focus of Skarstedt Gallery’s selling exhibition, opening on Tuesday February 11 and running until Saturday April 5. The artist’s third solo show at this gallery continues his exploration into both creative processes. “My intention was to explore the extreme possibilities of ink on paper,” says Condo. “I used the medium to create transparent layers of colours. I thought of Rothko at times and his overlapping veils of transcendental space. I placed the figures into this kind of space and used lines to define their ambiguous presence in the void.”

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All the uneasy originality of Condo’s figurative style is let loose here, with the wry, warped portraiture creating an edgy sensibility. A dark, brooding palette is conjured with meticulous brushwork, while the artworks’ sheer size adds to the dramatic effect. Take Standing Bather (2013, first picture). Ink, gesso and charcoal combine to give an almost sculptural feel to the haunting, elongated female figure in this huge (82in x 61in) portrait. Meanwhile, the wash of colour dripping down the surface of this and other works (such as The Discarded Human, second picture) emphasises the spontaneous immediacy of Condo’s approach.

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Condo fans are in for a further treat. A concurrent show running from Tuesday February 11 until Saturday March 22 at Simon Lee Gallery reflects the collaborative approach of both galleries in presenting work by the New York-based artist, whose status is endorsed by his presence in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art in his home city.

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