Whatever else can be said about Los Angeles, it is a city in love with paradox. Just consider Hauser & Wirth’s recently opened L.A. gallery—housed in a vintage auto showroom on West Hollywood’s iconic Santa Monica Boulevard—where the 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival’s stucco façade currently frames the colorful and kinetic nude forms of “People Are Strange,” a selection of new works by artist George Condo.

“The real beauty of this space is the windows on Santa Monica Boulevard,” says Stacen Berg, the gallery’s executive director. “There were tens of thousands of people driving by or stuck in traffic who used to look in and see these exotic foreign cars, and now you see these beautiful paintings. So we did orient the show with that in mind.”

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With its bright colors and cartoonish figures, Femme Fatale foregrounds another explosion of levity. And yet, hovering above it all is a small but somewhat terrifying vampyric visage in black and gray, the most clearly legible figure on the canvas. “When we deal with the early 20th-century painters—Picasso, Matisse, all of the great masters of the early 20th century—what they were doing was fighting against Classicism and wanting to deconstruct it and turn it into Abstraction,” Condo says. “But when I was born, it was after Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, De Kooning—the whole world had changed, and so I wanted to take Abstraction and turn it back into Realism.” With Femme Fatale, Condo had a bit of fun with that idea, imagining what someone would look like if they were turned into a cartoon and then returned to their original selves.

“George Condo: People Are Strange” runs through April 22, 2023. 

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