“The pandemic has forced us into that strange, unidentified region of the mind,” writes George Condo on "Internal Riot," his latest solo show with Hauser & Wirth, “where it seems to function on its own without any guidance.”
For the exhibition, which spans two floors of the gallery's massive Chelsea location, Condo admits us into that cavernous, conflicted, and chaotic space: his trademark “artificial realism” pulses through these works. Invented figures grapple with the full range of emotion that besets a population in isolation, from placidity to anguish to fury. In Sunset (2020) [pictured], a woman with the unimpeachable serenity of a Botticelli Venus faces off against a ferocious cartoonish scrawl of a figure. The works are a frenzy of teeth, fingers, eyes, and breasts rendered with thick whites, muddy washes, and fast charcoal stokes. Webs of looping lines induce a sense of discord—there’s no clear up or down, left or right—and claustrophobia.
The parallels to a post-election, mid-pandemic nation are not incidental. These are timely works, pictures made during quarantine—the dates of completion often recorded upon the surface—with some having taken weeks, others mere hours. Condo recognizes the convergence of crises, how they intersect and how they heighten each other.
George Condo, Sunset, 2020. Ink, graphite, gesso, and aquarelle wash on paper, 40 1/2 x 60 inches. © George Condo. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.