• 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 has dedicated his career to experimental practices, examining the shortfalls of conventional language and shining a light on the dark side of contemporary culture — specifically consumerism and mainstream media as they are experienced in America.

    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 recently virtual reality. The medium of video at once preserves and informs McCarthy's performances and other creative endeavors, serving as a core part of his practice. 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 White Snow (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 works by McCarthy and selected collaborators, made between 1970 and 2013.


    It is an understatement to describe McCarthy’s videos as challenging. 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. With respect to his endeavors beyond video, the exhibition addresses the creative strategies embraced throughout his career: his adoption of metaphorically-charged food stuffs, like mayonnaise, ketchup and chocolate, in place of or alongside real bodily fluids; the shift in his screen roles from cross-dressing female personage to abusive yet impotent father figure; and the consistency in motifs of spinning, indiscernible muttering, and simulated defecation and copulation.  

    Trauma is a presiding theme in the work, palpably felt in the state of bewilderment or misery afflicting his characters. Attempts to demystify the carnality of their behavior allude to rituals of birth and castration or lapse into psychoanalytic overtures detailing abjection and the neuroses derived from early childhood. McCarthy’s true power lies in an ability to induce psychological ruptures with the familiar and generally beloved by divorcing rules of social propriety. Unlike the Viennese Actionist that sought cultural healing through raw hedonistic performances, McCarthy shows us a dark side of human nature with no pretense of achieving absolution — spiritual or otherwise.

    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. In considering the nature of certain content, the exhibition will be restricted to those over the age of 18. Identification is required. Admission is granted under visitors’ discretion.


    M Woods
    +86 10 83123450
    info@mwoods.org
    D-06, 798 Art Zone,No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Road,Chaoyang District,Beijing


  • Paul McCarthy (b. 1945) lives and works in Los Angeles. From 1982 to 2002, he taught performance, video, installation, and performance art history at the University of California, Los Angeles. A selection of his solo exhibitions include: “Paul McCarthy: Raw Spinoffs Continuations” (Hauser & Wirth, New York, 2016); “Paul McCarthy: Drawings” (The Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2015); “Chocolate Factory” (Monnaie de Paris, 2014); “Paul McCarthy; White Snow Dwarf (Dopey # 1)” (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2011); “Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement – Three Installations, Two Films” (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2008); “Paul McCarthy – Head Shop / Shop Head” (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2006); “Paul McCarthy. LaLa land parody paradise” (Whitechapel, London, 2005); “Paul McCarthy at Tate Modern” (London, 2003); “Paul McCarthy” (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2001). McCarthy has participated in no less than five installments of the Venice Biennale, and his works belong to many of the most widely recognized collections for contemporary art. 
    M Woods
    +86 10 83123450
    info@mwoods.org
    D-06, 798 Art Zone,No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Road,Chaoyang District,Beijing