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Paul McCarthy
A&E Drawing Session, Santa Anita

A&E Drawing Session, Santa Anita

Influential Los Angeles-based artist Paul McCarthy presents a group of important new works on paper from his latest project ‘A&E’ (2019 – ). Created during a series of freely improvised drawing sessions, or ‘performances’ between McCarthy and German actress Lilith Stangenberg, these new works on paper coalesce themes of violence and power characteristic in McCarthy’s work with his longstanding interest in drawing, performance, and film.

‘A&E’ is an acronym for Adolf & Eva, Adam & Eve and Arts & Entertainment. ‘A&E’ finds McCarthy transformed into Adolf Hitler, Adam and Stangenberg as Eva Braun, Eve. The project at this point takes the form of one, a feature film series and two, multiple drawing sessions. Adolf is depicted as the epitome of predatory toxic masculinity and buffoonery, while Eva is at once the lover, mother, and daughter. In these works, crude, expressionistic marks from these unrehearsed performance drawing sessions are captured on paper.

Paul McCarthy, ‘Adolf and Eva Table Drawing’, excerpt, 2020

In keeping with McCarthy’s multidisciplinary oeuvre, the drawings have evolved out of the artist’s current film project ‘NV Night Vader’ (2019 – ), based on Liliana Cavani’s sadomasochistic erotic drama ‘The Night Porter’ (1974). This epic film project features a deranged cast of characters, including McCarthy as ‘Max’, a mafioso-like Hollywood executive, and Stangenberg in the role of Lucia, the central character of the 1974 movie, who here plays a young German Actress.

‘At the end of shooting NV, we thought we should push it further, change the characters. We decided we could shoot a new piece as Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, A&E (2019- ). Before shooting the feature we did two separate sessions – one in the woods and one in the studio. We did it in character as Adolf and Eva. We did it to find out about the characters, to work on the actions, and to draw and paint in character. We also did it as Max and Lucia from NV in the maze set.’—Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy, ‘It’s an Egg (Egg Drawing)’, excerpt, 2020

‘If I draw in character, I will make different decisions than I would as Paul. And doing the drawings with someone else completely alters the situation and the result. The other character is free to disrupt it, to talk, or whatever. They are also in character. We don’t know who Lilith is as Eva Braun; it will be what she brings to it. And who is the American Adolf Hitler who drinks? I am not interested in realism in relationship to the characters. They were hybrid realities.’—Paul McCarthy

A&E Drawing Session, Santa Anita

30 drawings, days on top of days, endless pretend, day after day, as Adolf Adam and Eva Eve experiment. Adolf Adam drops into a state of subterranean focus on the dark task of drawing, image messaging. And Eva Eve does what Eva Eve does, goes in and out of the void delirium.—Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy, ‘Adolf and Eva Table Drawing’, excerpt, 2020

‘...it’s always been about the process of improvisation, the creation of the unexpected action and dialogue.’ — Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy, ‘Repression Libido’, excerpt, 2020

About the artist

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, ‘Broken Dreams’, excerpt, 2020

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