Wednesday, 11 November 2015


    In this essay I will be reviewing and comparing the work of two different artists from two different rooms in the Tate Modern. The first Artist I have picked is George Condo, born in American in 1957. His work really stuck out as being expressive and free reign, something that is interesting to me and would like to reflect in my personal work in photography. I particularly like his use of figuration as a contrast to this. I'll be reviewing his 'Study For Red Head works 2,3,4,5.
    I will also be looking at Rebecca Horn. She was born in Germany in 1944 and works in Germany and France. I find her work conceptually interesting, she portrays strong themes of expression, rhythm, and can connect emotionally with her subject. She says 'the pencils make the marks on the wall: their image corresponds to the rhythm of my movements.'
The two artists George Condo and Rebecca Horne share the ability to see beyond the normal, connecting with their work, and the viewer.

    Firstly I will be comparing the work of these artists. The first piece by Condo is Study For Red Head 5 (2004). It depicts a female subject, ink on paper. The work could be interpreted to say she was being possessed; she looks like she is on fire. She had one eye, a demon like mouth and long sharp pointed fingers. The way this has been drawn shows clearly the emotional connection between Condo and the subject. He draws in a style that shows how he feels, seeing behind the physical form of the female body, inside, who she really is. It shows themes of anger, expression and torture.
    I will be comparing this work to Rebecca Horn’s Cockatoo Mask (1973). It is a sculpture from Feathers, metal and fabric. The contrast between the materials used is an oxymoron. Feather and fabric are delicate materials that may represent love and affection. The metal is solid, hard and contrasting to the other materials. Similarly, in Condos work, he shows the natural figure of the female body in contradiction to the evil features and the aggressive style it has been drawn in. Both artists are playing with opposites, depicting a subject in a non-conventional way in order to make the viewer interpret the feelings of the artist. Both show female subjects and both have links to aggression, the way the Horns Cockatoo Mask covers the female face, leaving her unbranded, unidentifiable, leaves the viewer lost, or restructures their typical perception of the subject. I enjoy the work, as it is interpretable. Its not portrait, its expressive, the work doesn’t just come from seeing, its an experience of the Artists life, it connects us to both sides of the story, it leaves the viewer asking question like ‘what does it say about the emotional connection of the artist and subject.’ In Horns work we can see that theme of love and intimacy. The way the Cockatoo Mask is performed tells us that the Horn wants to show intimacy of a female; the piece is performed beautifully and elegantly. The viewer is supposed to notice the sexual themes, they way the feathers open up when connected to another person shows an emotional connection. However the way they are left slightly open afterwards shows a negative side. The aggression compared to the tenderness. The mask is actually forcing the subject to stay intimately alone. Even though stimulated from another person the mask forces you to stick with yourself and not stray away. This theme of aggression is powerful and could be described selfish. It communicated that Horn wants to us to understand our self-power and how we should have a stronger connection ourselves. 

    This can be compared to George Condos Study for Red Head 3. It shows a female subject sitting alone, naked in a chair. Instead of the subject being drawn or painted sexualised, to perfect standard, it has been made to look like a demon. The work wants us to make a connection with the female form however we are being restricted by the ghostly, haunted style of the work. The sharp angles show themes of anger. In a portrait the natural curves would have been shown, they may have been drawn like this by Condo to reflect his anger at the subject. Condo says ‘When we abstract in imagistic terms from a recognisable from -lets say a face- to an impression of a face, we can still recall the impression of a face somewhere within this abstraction.’ He is saying that when we are abstracting the subject, we are able to still make a connection with the person. Us as humans are able to read the style of the work, the way the subject is depicted and come to conclusions about who the subject is, are they a good person, have they made mistakes. It leaves us thinking about who and why.
    This can be compared to Rebecca Horns ‘Pencil Mask.’ The mask can almost be called a tool to help express the work of George Condo. The mask has pencils attached to it and the user of it can move their head to create marks on the wall.
    A difference in these works is that whilst Horn uses motion and direct connection to the head/mind of the user of the mask, Condo uses what he sees and feels through drawing with his hand. Horn’s is a performance, a direct connection to your feeling and thoughts through your head to the paper. Condos is still as emotionally significant, it’s just the methods of portraying them is different. One works in sculpture and the other works 2D with pen and ink. Both mediums are strong ways of visually showing the themes of love and anger. Sculpture and 3D performance are a good way of showing emotion as you can physically make a connection with the object if you experiencing the piece first hand or if you’re watching you can emotionally attach to the subjects.
     Rebecca Horns work ‘Overflowing Blood Machine’ (1970) is different to the works of George Condo’s Study For Red Head 2 (2004). Horns work is a 3D piece in which a subject lays on top. Red tubes flow down portraying blood. ‘The performer is tied down on top of a glass container; tubes are wrapped around his body. Blood is slowly pumped from the glass container through the plastic tubes. This garment of veins encases his body, wrapping him in pulsating skin.’  The work is showing the importance of the blood flowing through our bodies, the importance of us. This is contrasting to Condo’s work. Condo shows an extremely broken, flat, ink and colour expressionistic drawing of a person/cartoon. The work tells us about the subject, who they are by the way it was been drawn. It features strange circles, tubes, starts, bits of cartoon bone. It is showing a ‘crazy’ depiction of who we are, our ability to become free and be whoever we want to be. This is different to how Horn’s work is quite inclusive, quite self contained. Condos drawing is clearly showing expansion of who we are whilst Horn is saying be who you are, Condo is saying you can be whatever you want to be. The use of colour in Condo’s illustration is important as it gives hints of being expressive, colourful, and playful. Horns work does not do this, it doesn’t allow the person featured as the subject of the work to expand, the net of veins is containing the person and making them stuck to who they are rather than letting them expand beyond who they are.

Another difference is between Horns Cockatoo Mask and Condos last piece in his abstract, figurative series. He has a colour drawing of a blue mouse with a large moustache. This piece is a little off the series and doesn’t features many similar themes to the rest of his work. The Cockatoo Mask is an emotional piece about love, and danger. Condo’s drawing is showing themes of imagination. I say this due to the odd colour used and the
un-textured surface of the animal. It has been painted in a non-realistic way. This isn’t shown in the performance piece.

To conclude, the exhibition was extremely useful in seeing different ways of working. It’s opened me to appreciate different working mediums to communicate similar feeling, themes and emotions. George Condo and Rebecca Horn have both successfully managed to communicate strong contradictions in their work that leave the viewer open to analysis.  They both use subjects in order to communicate their own feelings. They work in different styles and use different materials however they can speak directly to the viewer in the same way. Both artists show two sides to a story, distorting our usual views on reality, making us see deeper into a piece of art than ever before. I believe that the works of these artists are more comparable and similar due to the themes and methods of communication used rather than the difference of medium and performance/viewing experience. The similarities overweigh the differences.

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