A deceased artist once said in an interview that Picasso will not be remembered in 20 years. George Condo’s solo show “People are Strange” which was on view at Hauser & Wirth’s new location in West Hollywood, California, would beg to differ. The 20th century modern master’s presence is felt and deeply influenced in Condo’s most recent work. The title is taken from the song by the Doors, the idea of the “strange’ is explored a way of seeking the contemporary condition. Condo uses Cubist pictorial strategies to construct identities and figures within the canvas.
Using Cubism as a means and a way to create a figure, Condo’s paintings are exercises in the creation of form and space. His paintings are also psychological in nature. The multiple vantage points form an instability as each portrait makes an emotional state. Multiple views depict an inner state of the viewer. Besides Picasso, Condo takes cues from other modernism’s past. Artists such as Philip Guston, Matisse and Willem De Koning are quoted and utilized with Condo’s canvases. He adds the splatter on the paintings as if to give a wink and a nod to the gestural of the Abstract Expressionist. This seems more a deliberate exercise in wreckage and entropy. Out of the maelstrom, Condo creates portraits that are freakish and distorted in their presence. In his pursuit of form and distortion, Condo is reasserting faith in painting’s past and current practice. From all this, Condo is really saying that people are “strange” and that politics and contemporary society are making them this way. The artist is only revealing what is hidden. Condo makes his case by laying and overlapping, distorting and twisting the figures within each other. Bodies and figures converge and dissipate onto each other as if nothing is solid and everything is in flux. The figure is at the mercy of political and social forces that distort and manipulate.
George Condo’s “People are Strange” was the perfect solo show to open at Hauser & Wirth’s new West Hollywood location. Condo is placing a mirror darkly onto the society that can truly be described as strange. With the proliferation of falsity, misinformation, and deep-fakes, Condo is only making a case that the strange is the new normal. “People Are Strange” is the first solo show since his 2019 show at Sputh Magers where Condo follows the same approach where the line between reality and the forces that distort that reality. It is also driving people apart from each other. That is what’s strange.
George Condo. "People Are Strange"
15 February – 22 April 2023
Hauser & Wirth West Hollywood