We enter the 4th floor where Condo’s works, dating back to the early 80s, were hung salon style in a dimly lit room, where the only lights available were those that were highlighting the paintings. I liked the ambience. I felt warm and the colors used in the paintings evoked a feeling of comfort and happiness regardless of the grotesque beings depicted on the wall before me.
I happened to look over at the bench and noticed that it was Jerry Saltz, art critic of New York Magazine and one of my favorite writers, sitting down with the exhibition catalog next to him. Naturally, I approached him and asked if I can see the book. We then went on to exchange names and began chatting about the works––Gabby was soon to join the conversation, which then became practically an entire museum visit with our new friend.
This is what I got out of the show: I relate to Condo’s work because of his recurring motif of the abstracted female body; an element of art history that I have always loved. Condo is not afraid to borrow ideas and stylistic elements from his predecessors (i.e. Francis Bacon, Picasso, Matisse, de Kooning, and other Old Masters), and, perhaps, this is why some may find his art boring. He’s practically been painting the same subject matter since he started, except now it seems he has the luxury of making larger works because he can afford space at this point of his career. I prefer his earlier works, from the 80s and 90s, over those created in the last few years. Evocative and satirical in nature, Condo’s work is a visual representation of the comedy that is playing within his mind and the pictures that he paints for us are tragically beautiful, nonetheless.
In popular culture most are able to identify with Condo (if they are able to recognize his work at all) through the work he did for Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a title that is fitting to Condo’s oeuvre. Is Condo, an 80’s NYC LES art scenester, the ultimate art star because of his collaboration with the ultimate contemporary cultural icon, that is Mr. Kanye West? This is the question I left the museum asking myself yesterday.
After the museum we headed over to Chelsea to see Pema Rinzin at Joshua Liner Gallery and after that our group grew each stop we made (Kenny Scharf at Paul Kasmin and then the Mark Seliger book signing at Steven Kasher Gallery––where fresh air did not exist and it was too crowded to move, but I did run into PunkRockJoe). All the while I could not stop thinking about how hungry I was. I was not content until we ended up at Panna–the quirky, small, tacky Indian restaurant in the East Village. Gub danced with the Uncle Fester like doorman to the cheesy Happy Birthday tune, wine was had, and lame cell phone photos were taken. Sounds like a good day to me.