The Fall show season continues with some heavyweight presentations as Hauser & Wirth introduce Internal Riot, an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by George Condo. Debuting with the gallery with this major presentation, one of our favorite artists also had the honor of inaugurating their new Chelsea space.
Following Drawings for Distanced Figures, presented online earlier this spring, the work in this show was entirely made during the quarantine period thus “reflecting the unsettling experience of physical distance and the absence of human contact during this prolonged time of social isolation.” Bringing back his most iconic figures, the presentation is divided between large works on canvas and works on paper. The main characteristic of this body of work is that Condo’s figures are now almost exclusively solitary, disconnected from each other, while tangled up in the abstracted mass of expressive gestures and forms. This is all driven by the very intimate experience which the artist elaborated about in a statement about this exhibition. —Sasha Bogojev
These paintings and drawings explore my experience in isolation and reflect the inner isolation we have all experienced throughout our lives. Internal dialogues while in transit or asleep or in the form of dreams. The pandemic has forced us into that strange, unidentified region of the mind where it seems to function on its own without any guidance. Now our rules and daily lives have been re-ordered as well – face masks, endless sanitization, gloves, and germ warfare. Without structures and data, the humanitarian effort to bring the human essence back into the picture and empathetically solve the virus and our own inner turmoil has turned into a much bigger picture over these last so many months since I left the city. The virus turned deadly and its attack amplified the flaws in humanity, the ruthless denigration of people simply for what they look like and where they come from.
The protests were justified. I protested with my paintings. In a psychological sense, I lit them on fire and turned them upside down in revolt and sickness, ‘Internal Riot,’ which I’m naming this exhibition is about that feeling of just wanting to turn your world upside down and burn it to the ground… and hope a new planet will be born. It’s about that transcendental moment when all things are everything.
Other paintings and works on paper are my interpretations of the abstract web humanity is caught up in. Compositions moving diagonally on the canvas from right to left or left to right, the polarization, no straight up and down, an endless saga of going one way or another, ending nowhere. Clashing profiles, both reasonable and unreasonable, anger, mistrust, and fear. ‘Father and Daughter With Face Mask’ captures the staring eye of the insane father as the younger child is rendered over a silver mask. His protective maniacal head is trapped in a diagonal construction site over which he has no control. ‘There’s No Business Like No Business’ is what appears to be an out of work, unemployed man who could have once stood out in front of a Broadway theatre handing out pamphlets. Covid-19 has shut all those theaters down. Now, he too, is trapped in diagonal suspension, waiting endlessly for the lights to turn green and his job to return. Perhaps it never will.
All the paintings relate to the spontaneous, improvisational nature of the works on paper, their immediacy. The painting Internal Riot and the drawing Portrait of Virginia Woolf, are totally interrelated. I worked on a daily basis, dating each piece when it was finished. Some took days, others weeks. Some took only hours. And then the days of doing nothing seemed longer, the elasticity of time became apparent to everyone I know. People call on the phone and can’t remember what day it is anymore, can’t remember what they ‘used to do’ or know what in fact they ever will do. There is a migratory sense in the air. People want to move… with no clear path in sight. This is the moment for change. As an artist I know I can right wrongs in my paintings and that is what I do. I unite every form and color and harmonize it to the point where it sings like a choir. I’d love to see the world do that. —George Condo
The exhibition that runs through January 23, 2021 will be the main subject of a conversation between artist George Condo and Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director of the New Museum, which will be broadcasted on Mon 9th Nov 2020 at 1 pm via Zoom.
Photo © George Condo / Photography by Thomas Barratt / Genevieve Hanson