George Condo is a contemporary American artist whose portraits are on display in two separate exhibitions across two Mayfair galleries. The themes and styles of these two sets of works couldn’t be more different.
At Simon Lee gallery the paintings are made up of flashes of bright colours with cartoon-esque eyes. They are best thought of as cheeky works created in the style of Picasso’s weeping woman, yet with an uplifting and life-affirming feel to them. The works catch the eye and are easily accessible but their pop art style does mean they lack emotional weight.
Over at Skarstedt you’ll find a series of much darker paintings featuring mangled faces and twisted bodies. These are much harder works to stomach and definitely bear stylistic similarities with Francis Bacon, and can even be thematically linked to the black paintings by Goya. All the works at this gallery are in black and white, which makes them more imposing, and some of the contorted subjects resemble something out of a horror movie.
The Skarstedt exhibition is hard hitting and is our preferred exhibition of the two, as it shows Condo at his most powerful and disturbing. Both exhibitions together demonstrate his diversity as a portraitist but, as with many artists, it’s only when he’s painting negative emotions that he’s at his strongest.
George Condo: Ink Drawings is on at Skarstedt, 23 Old Bond Street, W1S 4PZ until 6 April. George Condo: Headspace is on at Simon Lee, 12 Berkeley St, W1J 8DT until 22 March. Entrance to both exhibitions is free.