My Beautiful Dark Twisted Reality: Kanye X George Condo
2010 marks the year Kanye released his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which would serve as a newfound creative direction for the college dropout himself. Published nearly 10 years prior, the album still remains a topic of conversation as it features Kanye’s vast artistic abilities beyond his understanding of tonal aesthetics. It is evident that the work does not stand as a sole album, rather a multi-media production. One crucial media outlet of the production is his film entitled Runaway, which is set to the album’s soundtrack. Visual art also serves as a facet of the production witnessed through the cover art, displaying the artwork of George Condo, a painter within a genre he refers to as ‘artificial realism’. The collaboration of Condo and Kanye directly coincides with the juxtaposition of reality with fantasy evident in these various media forms.
In an interview with Condo, the artist discusses the genre of artificial realism as he depicts figures in a cartoon manner with metaphorical undertones. Condo reveals that his painting techniques present accuracy in creation. However, the realistic components are then distorted as he incorporates artificial structures, behaviors and personalities. This form of artificial realism he believes exists beyond his pieces as it serves as both an artistic concept and political concept. Thus, Condo highlights that our current age and political climate is one of artificial realism. Primarily, our social media driven society fuses professional and private spheres, granting any individual a platform. Condo calls to attention that information submitted from these media platforms distorts the truth and tends to divert individuals from reality. Additionally, our political realm is within an age of ‘fake news’, which also coincides with Condo’s artificial realism as political events occur in a realistic manner, but are then artificially altered to create a false narrative by propaganda networks and pundits. Condo then concludes that amongst the immense distortions of reality, there exists profound truths in art.
Consistent with Condo’s sentiments, Kanye confirms that imbedded in the artificial components of artistic production, undeniable realities exist. The opening scene of his film is set in a mythical landscape, appearing as a middle ground between the heavenly and hellish aspects of the plot. The scene is then interrupted by the crash of a Phoenix, soon to be rescued by Kanye. Upon arrival to Kanye’s home, the Phoenix watches the news, where she is horrified by the content of the report. Kanye then informs the Phoenix to avoid the news, preserving her own positive spirit and creative energy. Despite the various supernatural elements of the plot thus far, the content of the news within the film is highly reminiscent of the constant negative news coverage. Moreover, Kanye’s instruction to not listen to the news showcases our current society distrust of these media platforms to relay accurate information. One can also make a parallel between Kanye and the Phoenix as she may serve as a representation of Kanye’s ego/ internal being as an artist, existing in a mythical realm with intense energy and creativity, insusceptible to news media. Kanye then attempts to civilize the Phoenix by teaching her table etiquette, which precedes the iconic dinner table scene. Within this scene, Kanye brings attention to the deeply-rooted racial divides within dining settings. Historically, Africans Americans were not permitted to join Caucasians at the table and remained as servers. Kanye highlights these past divides and ridicules them through a role reversal, witnessed in an all Caucasian servant staff. Elements such as these enable Kanye to utilize the film as a visual representation of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, shining light on various realities, coexisting with the entertaining artificial elements, inevitably confirming the notion that within art, truth exists.