Art News

Hayward Gallery Presents the First UK Major Retrospective of Works by George Condo

artwork: George Condo - "Nude Homeless Drinker", 1999 - Oil on canvas - 182.9 x 165.1 cm. - Private Collection. - © George Condo. On view at the Hayward Gallery, London in "George Condo: Mental States" from October 18th until January 8th 2012.

London.- The Hayward Gallery is pleased to present “George Condo: Mental States” on view at the gallery from October 18th through January 8th 2012. This Hayward Gallery exhibition is the first major retrospective of the American artist George Condo. Since his emergence in New York’s East Village in the early 1980s with his ‘fake Old Master’ canvases, George Condo has created one of the most adventurous, imaginative, and provocative bodies of work in contemporary art. George Condo: Mental States is the first major survey of paintings and sculptures from the past twenty-eight years of the artist’s career. Organised by the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre and curated by Hayward Director, Ralph Rugoff, the exhibition premièred at New Museum, New York in January to critical acclaim, and is currently on show at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. The Hayward Gallery presentation will feature some 80 works, and includes nine of Condo’s portraits of Her Majesty The Queen.

artwork: George Condo - "Dreams and Nightmares of the Queen", 2006 - Oil on canvas 50.8 x 40.6 cm. - Private Collection. © George Condo - Courtesy of the Hayward Gallery, LondonCondo’s approach to making art unsettlingly conjoins the beautiful and the grotesque, seriousness and outlandish wit. He has populated his canvases with an arresting parade of tragic-comic beings, which for all their oddness and outrageous humour and their caricatured features, are deeply immersed in the traditions of European and American painting. Focusing on his ‘imaginary portraits’, which conjure varied mental states with a mixture of absurdity and pathos, the exhibition also features portraits of historical subjects such as Jesus and the Madonna as well as Her Majesty Elizabeth II, exploring the breadth of Condo’s artistic vision. Displayed in the upper galleries of the Hayward Gallery, “George Condo: Mental States” will be organised thematically and stylistically in ‘chapters’ developed in close collaboration with the artist. More than 30 paintings with a variety of styles and subjects are presented in a ‘portrait wall’ dramatically hung floor to ceiling in a salon style. Featuring a range of fantasy characters, these portraits often incorporate elements from masterpieces by artists including Velasquez and Goya. The characters are recognisable archetypes – butlers, businessmen, clergy and historical figures – familiar despite their humorously grotesque features.  Larger scale abstract works explore how Condo reimagines the work of modern Masters such as Pablo Picasso. The paintings are complemented by a series of nine sculptural heads including The Alcoholic (2002) all cast in gilded bronze.

American artist George Condo was born in New Hampshire. He has occupied a prominent position in the art world for nearly three decades. Along with painters such as Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat, Condo was instrumental in the influential East Village art scene during the 1980s.  Condo studied art history and music theory at the University of Massachusetts I Lowell. The first public exhibition of his work took place in New York City in 1981 and he has since exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe. His work is included in the collections of museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. George Condo also works across fashion, music and street culture. He has collaborated with Kanye West on the rapper’s latest album cover design, as well as on a series of limited edition silk scarves (with design due M/M Paris). Last autumn, characters from Condo’s paintings came to life during the catwalk show of New York fashion designer Adam Kimmel, during which the models wore masks designed by the artist.

artwork: George Condo - "Uncle Joe", 2005 - Oil on canvas - 134.6 x 116.8 cm. - Private Collection, Courtesy Simon Lee Gallery. © George Condo. = On view at the Hayward Gallery, London

The Hayward Gallery is an art gallery within the Southbank Centre, part of an area of major arts venues on the South Bank of the River Thames, in central London, England. It is sited adjacent to the other Southbank Centre buildings (the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall/Purcell Room) and also the Royal National Theatre and British Film Institute. The Hayward Gallery was built by Higgs and Hill and opened on 9 July 1968. Its massing and extensive use of exposed concrete construction are typical of Brutalist architecture. The initial concept was designed, with the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, as an addition to the Southbank Centre arts complex by team leader Norman Engleback, assisted by Ron Herron and Warren Chalk, two members of the later founded group Archigram, of the Department of Architecture and Civic Design of the Greater London Council. The Hayward hosts three/four major temporary modern or contemporary exhibitions each year and does not house any permanent collections. From 1968 to 1986, the gallery was managed by the Arts Council of Great Britain, but management then passed to Southbank Centre. The gallery is also the base of the Arts Council’s National Touring Exhibitions programme, as it was, until 2002, of the Arts Council Collection. Unlike British galleries receiving state funding support, but in common with other temporary exhibitions at British galleries, the Hayward charges admission fees. The Hayward’s exhibition policy embraces visual art from all periods, and past shows have included the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Edvard Munch and the French Impressionists. Recently the programme has tended to concentrate on surveys of contemporary art which complement the spaces and powerful concrete structure of the building, such as those of works by Dan Flavin and Antony Gormley. It has hosted two surveys of works from the Arts Council Collection: British Art 1940–1980 and How to Improve the World: 60 Years of British Art. Visit the Southbank Centre’s website at …