paul mccarthy: innocence
Video Works 1970 – 2013
17 March - 17 June 2018
M WOODS is proud to present a solo exhibition by American master Paul McCarthy (b. 1945), a veteran of the Los Angeles scene and hugely influential to scores of artists across the world.
McCarthy’s 50 years of artmaking have seen him work in nearly every conceivable medium, from painting and sculpture, to performance, video, feature-length film and virtual reality. For the exhibition at M WOODS, the artist has chosen to present a survey of video, which he has worked with since the beginning and consistently returned to over the course of his career. From his early black and white documentations of actions like Whipping a Wall and a Window with Paint (1974), to the seven-hour epic WS, White Snow The Feature (2013), McCarthy’s own trajectory reflects the evolution of video art in production and address towards audiences. Showing publicly for the first time in China are 43 video works by McCarthy and selected collaborators, made between 1970 and 2013.
On display at M WOODS is a set of some of the most rigorous and visceral examples of his highly physical and exhausting practice. In the vast majority, McCarthy himself maintains a central presence, yet his material and conceptual concerns continue to evolve.
Los Angeles is undoubtedly an influence with its proximity to Disneyland and Hollywood, the powerful and financed hubs of international popular culture. The city has long stood as an alternative to the New York-centric focus of American contemporary art, and having taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, for twenty years, McCarthy represents a key figure within a nebula of artists that have called it home. Many of the references McCarthy includes in his videos — university paraphernalia, characters from Disney movies, fast food, and The Sound of Music — are universally recognized symbols of the West, and for many of a certain generation in China, they served as first impressions of the materialism espoused by American lifestyle.
Innocence is inseparable from narratives of its loss. The exhibition title suggests a state of mind and spirit of inquiry that run throughout McCarthy’s practice. M WOODS has worked closely with the artist and his studio team to design the exhibition. For its duration, the museum is flipped from beginning to end and accessed from the back entrance — an organizational restructuring that echoes McCarthy’s inversion of social norms and interrogation of accepted systems of knowledge.
M WOODS expresses sincere thanks to the artist, Paul McCarthy Studios and Hauser & Wirth.