Frieze OVR Highlights:
Philip Guston

7 October 2020
Frieze OVR Highlights:Philip Guston

Philip Guston, Paw II (1975). Oil on canvas. 170.2 x 203.2 cm. © The Estate of Philip Guston. Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.

Hauser & Wirth included this Philip Guston painting in their Frieze Art Fair 2020 online viewing room.

Tate and several other American museums recently announced their postponement of a major touring Guston retrospective due to the sensitivity of his material during this time of political and social unrest, particularly in America.

From within the art world, there has been widespread criticism of the decision, given the overtly thoughtful nature of Guston's work that critiques many facets of Western society. There have been numerous comparisons of the present political context to that of the 1970s in the U.S. and despair at the lack of progress made.

This painting was made five years after Guston dramatically eschewed his abstract style for a more crude figurative approach. Thick brushstrokes are applied in fleshy tones, imbuing the image with a menacing grotesqueness.

Guston often focused on specific domestic or studio objects, transforming them into harrowing metaphors for broader existential doubts he felt so acutely. At times surreal and lugubrious; Guston uses visceral texture as a vehicle for ridiculing our modes of living, whilst profoundly expressing his own impending confrontation with mortality.


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