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Thorn in the Flesh

The George Economou Collection Space

11 SEP. 2014 —
15 APR. 2015

Press Release

The George Economou Collection is pleased to present the group exhibition Thorn in the Flesh curated by Dieter Buchhart.

Modernism manifests itself as a constant antagonism between abstraction and figuration. The exhibition Thorn in the Flesh is dedicated to exploring these antagonisms and their impact on art from after the Second World War to now. In so doing, postmodern polymorphism finds striking overlaps among concrete, informel, abstract, and figuration, in contrast to a mere insistence on rigid concepts.

The exhibition focuses on three sequential areas: Disruption, Figure, and Flesh.

Disruption refers to the tear in the fabric of modernism. While Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Slingshot depicts a David and Goliath struggle against racism, repression, and social injustice, McCarthy’s Tripod deconstructs the human body using various dimensions for individual body parts, the intactness of which the artist attacks and destroys with abstract shapes. Equally, Rauch’s painting Reich represents a mutual interaction of various forms and layers of reality. A television tower, a pole, and letters remain like thorns in the texture of a landscape seemingly committed to realism.

The second part of the show, Figure, is dedicated to exploring the proportions of the human body. Max Beckmann’s life-sized half portraits and the two pointed shapes in Louise Bourgeois’ Knife Couple reflect human proportions in the interaction of abstraction and figuration. Michelangelo Pistoletto goes a step further, in that the beholder who can see his mirrored reflection alongside the pair of doppelgangers becomes part of the work.

The third thematic focus Flesh is dedicated to the materiality of paint and bodies of paint. For example, Jean Dubuffet’s art brut representation of the human body by way of the haptic experience of the surface reflects human flesh, just as Kazuo Shiraga, using his hands and feet, transfers his own corporeality to his paintings, evoking associations of the destruction of the body in a wild paint slaughter of blood and human flesh. In Brown and Yellow Abstraction George Condo negotiates the still utterly contemporary antagonism between abstraction and figuration that oscillates among the dimensions of the human body, our existence, and an apparently non-figurative abstraction.