Paul McCarthy 'Daddies Tomato Ketchup Inflatable' 2007. Installation view, Frieze Projects: Frieze Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 15 - 17 February 2019. © Paul McCarthy. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

‘Daddies Tomato Ketchup Inflatable’ by Paul McCarthy

6 February 2019

Frieze Los Angeles

As a part of Frieze Projects curated by Ali Subotnick, within the backlot of Paramount Pictures Studios, Paul McCarthy will present ‘Daddies Tomato Ketchup Inflatable’ (2007), a 50-foot high inflatable, alongside a continuous loop screening of ‘Bossy Burger’ (1991). Activating the cinematic setting, Frieze Projects will create a disorienting atmosphere where visitors are in two places at once: an artificial New York City within Los Angeles.

During the making of this work in the 1990s, McCarthy extended his practice into installations and stand-alone sculptural figures, utilizing a range of materials such as fiberglass, silicone, animatronics and inflatable vinyl.

Playing on popular illusions and cultural myths, fantasy and reality collide in a delirious yet poignant exploration of the subconscious, in works that simultaneously challenge the viewer’s phenomenological expectations. 

‘Bossy Burger’ (1991) was the first time McCarthy used large scale set design and sculpture in a performance. Wearing an Alfred E. Neuman mask and exhausting a bottle of his trademark Heinz ketchup, the artist's performance suggested the exteriorization of bodily innards, a gesture that is in turns humorous and absurd.

Whether absent or present, the human figure has been a constant in his work, either through the artist‘s own performances or the array of characters he creates to mix high and low culture, and provoke an analysis of our fundamental beliefs.

These playfully oversized characters and objects critique the worlds from which they are drawn: Hollywood, politics, philosophy, science, art, literature, and television. McCarthy’s work, thus, locates the traumas lurking behind the stage set of the American Dream and identifies their counterparts in the art historical canon.

Paul McCarthy, Bossy Burger, 1991 © Paul McCarthy. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn

Paul McCarthy, Bossy Burger, 1991 © Paul McCarthy. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn

In addition to McCarthy's participation in Frieze Los Angeles, Hauser & Wirth will present two films by the artist on Friday 15 February. This event features the world premiere of ‘CSSC – It Begins – The Coach The Skull’ and the US premiere of ‘DADDA – Poodle House Saloon’. Each film will be screened once for this special evening at The Montalbán Theater in Hollywood.

Co-directed by Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy, conceived by Paul McCarthy and edited by Damon McCarthy, and created over the course of three years, the films are part of the larger project ‘Coach Stage Stage Coach / Donald and Daisy Duck Adventure (CSSC / DADDA),’ a multi-platform work loosely inspired by the classic 1939 film ‘Stagecoach’ starring John Wayne. ‘CSSC / DADDA’ is the newest project within Paul McCarthy’s acclaimed multidisciplinary practice that merges performance, sculpture, photography, painting, video, installation, and virtual reality. Themes of family, mass media, and the dissolution of societal structures sit at the center of a sprawling oeuvre that illuminates society’s double standards and hypocrisies.

In the two feature films premiering 15 February, archetypal American narratives unfold and repeat with McCarthy’s characteristic amalgam of wit, rage, and subversiveness. The artist’s ongoing excavation of  human drives and desires continues here in the visual language of Hollywood Westerns. Co-opting tactics from the mainstream film industry to recast icons of Americana in deviant roles, these two films introduce new characters alongside others that have recurred over the years in the artist’s practice. The startling performances of McCarthy’s cast are set within a stagecoach and saloon, and accrue to a powerful meditation on America’s distinctive brand of intermingled sex and violence.