George Condo

The Comedian, 2012

George Condo’s world is populated by a cast of characters whose bulging eyes, bulbous cheeks, proliferating limbs and hideous over- or under-bites mark them apart as a singular species. The astonishing range of art-historical sources which his pictorial language draws upon is often noted, and yet this continuity across his vastly diverse painting practice bears witness to his achievement in absorbing the revolutionary genius of Picasso, Velazquez, Matisse, Archimboldo, Pollock, Twombly and countless others and making them new; characteristically his own.

Priests, Cardinals, clowns and waiters, grotesque nudes, debutantes and eager society girls wearing pearl necklaces, whether alone or assembled into orgiastic groups, all stare in confrontation out of his pictures. Condo has described his portraits as composites of various psychological states painted in different ways, reflecting the madness of everyday life. They often fuse cartoon figures and human forms into a state of metamorphosis, each simultaneously reflecting a plethora of emotions and gestures; a scream and a laugh within a single expression. Sculptures too, and drawings continue this investigation of the macabre, the carnivalesque and the abject, as well as apparently abstract painting compositions from which the familiar physiognomies of Condo’s players emerge and into which they return.