Art Press : 2020-04-20



66 oeuvre graphique ——— We are familiar with the inflatable sculptures by California­n Paul McCarthy: turds, decapitate­d pigs, sex toys (preferably anal); we know the chocolate factory, the ketchup orgies, the raw sausages stuffed down the throat, the teddy bear and rabbit fornicatin­g on a rock, even Snow White throwing up while frolicking with the seven dwarfs. We rarely, however, see the drawings that preceded these spectacula­r works. In Los Angeles, where the artist has lived since the early 1970s, the Hammer Museum has risen to a tricky challenge: to offer a dive into his aesthetic through his graphic work, the least exhibited and the least known, so as to provide a portrait of McCarthy like the negative of a photo, over six decades, and to present the latent matrix of the work. In this respect we are taken aback and fascinated by these 1990 diagrams, a sort of assessment of the graphic work seemingly executed in haste, where the artist schematize­d his past works, indicating here and there “sold”: A first attempt to put some order into what often seems an open-air unconsciou­s. The exhibition is, as the title indicates, a stroll inside the artist’s head. Organized chronologi­cally, however, it isn’t intended to be historical, documentar­y or scientific. The visitor is greeted by a self-portrait as a monkey, executed at the age of 18, which also serves as a poster and cover for the catalogue. This is the first sign of the exhibition’s ultra-biographic­al and perhaps hagiograph­ic character. But this is the lot of any solo exhibition. And could it be otherwise in a city of which McCarthy has become the main representa­tive, doyen of the art scene and tutelary figure? In the first room we prefer to the monkey self-portrait, which we could have done without, the which offer a direct plunge into the artist’s tormented psyche. These drawings, produced in San Francisco under the influence of psychotrop­ic drugs, are marked by themes that would become recurrent: oversized, swollen genitals, a Santa Claus figure, shapeless organic forms. We then see works very rarely exhibited, like the pages cut out of vaguely erotic magazines in 1970-71, intended to serve as the script for a film ( that was Head Space « Dopwhite, WS ». 2009. Huile, fusain et collage sur papier. 244 × 203 cm. (Hauser & Wirth Collection). Oil stick, charcoal, and collage on paper Stoned Blue Drawings, (1) 1980, p. 80. High Performanc­e, vol. 3, n°3 et n°4, automne-hiver Film of Desire)

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