Arts Illustrated

April 10, 2020

Drawings for Distanced Figures

Live online on April 3rd, Hauser & Wirth features a series of artist George Condo’s newest works, all created while in isolation

Team AI

In the last few weeks, all of our much-loved museums and galleries have been forced to close their doors. But art, true to its form and purpose, has found a way around the limitations posed by the pandemic and has managed to bring people even closer together. Through innovative platforms that are now granting unprecedent access to people across the globe, tech-savvy gallerists have taken over the online realm, possibly changing the game forever. Recognising that art cannot and should not be shut down, galleries around the world are providing art lovers everywhere a creative distraction by way of online exhibitions.

Molecular Figures, Pen and wax crayon on paper, 61 cm x 91.4 cm, 2020

Mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth, which recently pledged to donate 10 percent of all sales from its online shows to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organisation, kicked off its social-distancing endeavours with the online exhibition Drawings for Distanced Figures that features a new group of drawings by renowned artists George Condo, all related to the artist’s most recent painting series Distanced Figures.

Parallel Lives, Wax crayon on paper, 61 cm x 91.4 cm, 2020

Made during the last few weeks in the artist’s home studio in New York, the featured portrait drawings are evocative of the experience of isolation during this unsettling period. Depicted in crayon, pencil and ink, overlapping figures are layered, combining multiple viewpoints to reflect different emotions that occur simultaneously – paranoia, claustrophobia, anxiety and distress. They are portrayed with such beauty, elegance and resolve that rather than echoing a collective scream of fear and panic, they provide an antidote, a sense of solidarity in times of pain and confusion.

Linear Contact, Graphite on paper, 66 cm x 91.4 cm, 2020

For Condo, a defining figure of contemporary American painting, drawing constitutes a rich strand of his creative practice which has continually evolved over the past four decades. To him, the condition of isolation also carries positive connotations of seclusion in the studio space. ‘I love to draw and in the usual context of privacy, one doesn’t think of the term isolation or forced separation; rather it’s a space to create without being watched,’ he explained.

Together and Apart, Ink and wax crayon on paper, 61 cm x 91.4 cm, 2020

Improvisation and the immediacy of a drawing are concepts central to Condo’s latest series of works. Drawing quickly and freely, he likens the tempo of a piece of music to the tempo of a drawing. He believes that ‘artists should paint up-tempo without missing a stroke, in the same way that musicians like Jimi Hendrix or Glenn Gould play without missing any notes. There is also the same degree of attention necessary when drawing slowly, as one may find in a Sarabande of Bach.’

Symbiotic Fear, Wax crayon on paper, 61 cm x 91.4 cm, 2020

On the whole, Drawings for Distanced Figures spoke of one singular aspect of artistic endeavour that is now the topic of many online discussions: the joy in artmaking and its cathartic powers. And seeing that almost all of the drawings were sold out on the very day the exhibition opened, our guess is that Hauser & Wirth, with George Condo, has once again hit the mark, spot on!

George Condo with his work ‘Linear Contact’, 2020

All Images © George Condo and Hauser & Wirth.


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