Confronting the complex mechanisms of power, politics, desire, and history, this exhibition presents the Los Angeles debut of new and recent large-scale ‘A&E’ drawings, an offshoot of Paul McCarthy’s ongoing video series with German actor Lilith Stangenberg.
An initialism for Adolf & Eva, Adam & Eve, and Arts & Entertainment, ‘A&E’ is a multi-disciplinary project that evolved out of the artist’s film project ‘NV Night Vater’ (2019 –). Originally drawing from Liliana Cavani’s sadomasochistic erotic drama ‘The Night Porter’ (1974), the project continues McCarthy’s exploration of the origins of fascism, Hollywood, the contemporary art world, and the current political climate.
These drawings, created by McCarthy during improvised performances between himself and Stangenberg while in character as forms of Adolf and Eva, serve as documentation of both McCarthy’s incisive critical lens and his career-spanning omnivorous practice including performance, video, and drawing. The ‘A&E’ drawings will be accompanied by a video work from the drawing sessions along with the platform sculpture the drawing performances were enacted upon.
In the five-plus decades since his black paintings, McCarthy has continued to combine performance and markmaking with an additional complementary element – documentation of the performances and the pieces derived from them, a process that has become more obsessive and more extensive with each production, yielding a massive accumulation of video recordings, audio recordings, and still photographs.
‘I think of the A&E sessions as spinoffs looking toward the future, toward an A&E video series,’ McCarthy says. ‘The drawing and painting sessions are part of a trajectory in my work going back to the 60s, of drawing and painting as action or performance. In the drawing/painting sessions of A&E, we were ‘going into’ a realm, a world as both ourselves and as characters. The drawings were made on a big platform, a table that acted as a stage and or pedestal. Our actions were mashed together, entangled. Lilith was free to do as she wanted. I went in and out of drawing. The drawings came out of the arena we entered, ‘the other world.’
Paul McCarthy is widely considered to be one of the most influential and groundbreaking contemporary American artists. Born in 1945, and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, he first established a multi-faceted artistic practice, which sought to break the limitations of painting by using unorthodox materials such as bodily fluids and food. He has since become known for visceral, often hauntingly humorous work in a variety of mediums—from performance, photography, film and video, to sculpture, drawing and painting.
Paul McCarthy. A&E DrawingsA&E Drawing Session 2021With Lilith Stangenberg
On view now through 17 July 2022 at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles.