Beginning Saturday, May 8, Peder Lund will present nine painted bronze sculptures by one of the most widely influential and important artists of his generation, Paul McCarthy (1945- ). This is the gallery’s second time showing the LA artist’s work. Since the 1960s, McCarthy has worked within a broad range of artistic expressions, spanning media such as video, performance, painting, drawing, and sculpture. McCarthy is often associated with Wiener Actionism and its brutal and relentless expressions, which sought to attack conformism, conservatism, and the contentment of society. He challenges both his own and the audience’s boundaries and invites us to view the ordinary with fresh eyes to discover how illusory and relative our conception of reality is.
These painted pirate sculptures were created as part of the artist’s seminal Caribbean Pirates project, an ongoing endeavor that was realized together with McCarthy’s son Damon McCarthy, with whom he has since produced work regularly. First exhibited in 2005 at Haus der Kunst in Munich, Caribbean Pirates was inspired by the popular ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ attraction in Disneyland, however, predates the major blockbuster movie franchise of the same name that Disney would go on to produce. The McCarthys’ project consists of three large installations, a vast number of drawings and sculptures, several thousand photographs, and many hours of video. Unlike the Disney ride, which offers sanitized depictions of pirates as merry swashbucklers, McCarthy’s version centers on hyper-violent, hyper-sexual antics that are set against a backdrop of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. McCarthy critiques Western stereotypes of masculinity by transforming the iconic figure of the pirate through brutal images of debauchery and castration, as well as allegorizes the destruction, plunder, and collateral damage of uncaring and uninformed foreign governments. Through sickening irony, the artist exposes the jingoistic rationalizations and justifications of remote violence that so exemplified the American occupation and which brought about further destabilization to the Middle East. Other fascinating dimensions of this project were prompted by coverage of disasters at sea around the turn of the 21st century; piracy off the Horn of Africa and in the Strait of Malacca; oil spills from tankers and ocean-drilling platforms; and new waves of perilous seaborne migration in the Mediterranean, as well as McCarthy’s personal assessment of the commercial art world at large. The pirate sculptures have never before been shown.