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  • Provenance

    Simon Lee Gallery, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I believe that when I paint I become a conduit or medium for antipodal beings, between myself and the visions that exist inside of me. Beyond the conscious awareness of each of us there are thousands of these creatures who exist within the factory of our minds. That’s why, when I paint, I never limit myself to a preconceived notion of the final picture. I let my paintings emerge naturally and so keep myself open to anything that comes my way.” (The artist in ‘George Condo, The Condo Effect’, Another Magazine, Autumn/Winter 2004, p. 420)
     
    On first impression, George Condo’s imaginary portraits critique art historical conventions of the genre. A further look show his paintings engaging in an exploration of sexuality, violence, comedy and tragedy to reveal the psyche of his subjects. However, Condo’s characters are derived from the illusory world of memory, and in doing so manifest the style coined by the artist as Artificial Realism. This naturalistic representation of the artificial, implied in the above quote, recalls the manifestos of Dadaism and Surrealism while appropriating the analytical
    techniques of Cubism in the deconstruction of reality and the artificial construction of another reality. Somewhere between the grotesque and the comic, Condo’s portraits embody an absurd humour. The Irish Barber laughs directly at the viewer in a tone similar to that of Duchamp – his bared teeth and wild expression, in fact, almost defies the onlooker’s gaze. It is this dynamic relationship between Condo’s portraits and their audience that makes them so beguiling and that has brought the artist such high acclaim.
    On first impression, George Condo's imaginary portraits critique the art historical convention so common to his contemporaries. On a deeper level, his paintings engage in an exploration of sexuality, violence, comedy and tragedy that are all inherent to human nature thus exposing the inner psyche of his subjects. However the characters Condo paints derive from an illusory world of memory creating a style coined by the artist as ‘Artificial Realism.' This realistic representation of the ‘artificial' insinuated in the above quote, evokes the manifestos of Dadaism and Surrealism whilst also appropriating the analytical techniques of Cubism in the deconstruction of reality and the artificial construction of another. Somewhere between the grotesque and the comic, Condo's portraits imbue an absurd humour expressed by The Irish Barber laughing directly at the viewer in a similar tone to Duchamp. The bared teeth and widely snared eyes of the Barber defy any voyeuristic scrutiny with a confrontational zeal which gives Condo's portraits such high acclaim.

  • Artist Biography

    George Condo

    American • 1957

    Few artists have dedicated their careers as singularly to one genre as George Condo has to that of portraiture. He is drawn to the endless inquiries posed by the aesthetics and formal considerations of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and the Old Masters. Emerging on the New York art scene in the 1980s alongside contemporaries such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Condo developed a distinctive visual lexicon that is unmistakably his own. 

    Student to Warhol, friend to Basquiat and collaborator with William S. Burroughs, Condo tracked a different path. The artist frequently cites Picasso as a predominant influence in his contemporary cubist compositions and joyous use of paint. Condo is known for postmodernist compositions staked in wit and the grotesque, which draw the eye into a highly imaginary world. 

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PROPERTY FROM THE KIT FINANCE COLLECTION

16

The Irish Barber

2008
Oil on canvas in the artist's frame.  
132.1 x 116.8 cm. (52 x 46 in).
Signed, titled and dated 'Condo The Irish Barber 08' on the reverse.

Estimate
£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £163,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

13 October 2010
London