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30 January 2020

What goes on in Paul McCarthy's Head Space?

What goes on in Paul McCarthy's Head Space? Paul McCarthy: 'Cooking Show' (2001). Charcoal, graphite, and oil stick on paper, 248.9 × 181 cm. Private Collection.

For those who, when the name Paul McCarthy is mentioned, think immediately of the huge inflatable sculptures most recently outside Tate Modern, this exhibition might be something of a revelation. Although drawing is a daily practice for the artist, Paul McCarthy: Head Space, Drawings 1963-2019 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is the first survey exhibition in the US of his drawings and works on paper. Almost 600 in number, the works here show his processes of speculation, invention and working through themes of violence, humour, death, sex politics and social history. His materials range from the traditional charcoal, graphite, ink and collage, to ketchup and peanut butter.

The exhibition continues until 10 May. The accompanying catalogue has 400 illustrations, essays by the curators Aram Moshayedi, Bruce Hainley and Catherine Damman, and an interview with Paul McCarthy by Connie Butler.