This is the artist’s first solo show in New York in five years and her second with Lesley Heller Workspace.
Condon initiates each canvas with poured color to generate contingent and unexpected compositions. Her recent paintings interlace these pours, which are inspired by watercolor and Chinese splashed ink technique, with birds, flowers and plant forms culled from upholstery fabrics, wallpaper patterns and traditional Chinese scroll painting.
Bird and Flower refers to the classical Chinese painting technique of the same name, defined as much by its subject matter as by its reliance on the contour line achieved through a process of copying, tracing and refining. The bird-and-flower technique provides a departure point from which Condon explores her own process and imagery. Condon traces fabric and wallpaper samples, projecting and altering them; combining mechanical or objective modes of representation with more subjective gestures resulting in a merger of spontaneous and stylized methods. The fabric and wallpaper patterns evoke the harmony and beauty of Chinese bird-and-flower painting, while the pours and imagery beneath suggest alternative realms. The paintings’ compositional rhythms mimic Condon’s practice of Chinese idioms, as if amplified in color; their Tree of Life patterns show time’s passage with flowers and birds at various moments of bloom, perch and flight.
Gathering influences that range from Yuan Dynasty landscape, ancient textiles, Van Luit wallpapers, Marimekko sheets and her mother’s decorating samples, Condon continually mines multiple paint applications within a synthetic landscape, creating imagery that feels—much like life today—equally artificial and real. Her riotous, yet joyful paintings balance a sense of control with abandon through the intersection of nature, culture and transcendence.