Lari Pittman

In the May 2011 issue of Out magazine, a review by Jessanne Collins of the monograph Pittman (Rizzoli), presenting “three decades of the gay Los Angeleno’s pieces in chronological order”:

Pittman’s Day-Glo panoramas are immersive, absorbing the viewer in a way that the artist admits is almost aggressive. “I think the work takes on a form of drag, and there is drag that passes and drag that doesn’t pass,” he says in an interview included in the volume. “Drag that doesn’t pass is a provocation.”

Loaded with borrowed signage and jarring juxtapositions, Pittman’s motifs pair the everyday – furniture, faces, animals – with the pointedly symbolic – weapons, genitalia, credit card logos … The resulting visual cacaphony embodies an aesthetic that Pittman borrows from his Catholic Latin American heritage and calls “bittersweet” – when things are “oppositional but simultaneous.”

Many of his works incorporate fragments of text or specific expressions (“69” appears in a number of them).

Two examples from a huge body of work:

From an interview by Rachel Kushner in the L.A. Times Magazine (Sept. 2010):

Pittman, whose vivid, large-scale paintings are covered in flourishes and reticulations of design, is an artist who intellectualizes beauty and adornment rather than fetishizes it. Surface, for Pittman, has the breadth and density of deeply coded terrain. “I don’t have a cultural mistrust of the surface,” he says. “A reflective, sensational surface is still a conduit for meaning.”

A monumental figure in the history of L.A. art—albeit one not closely tied to any particular movement or school—Pittman has been developing his idiosyncratic, meta-visionary style for the last three decades.

One Response to “Lari Pittman”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    A somewhat similar sensibility (and inclination to pile stuff on) in some of my XXX-rated comic gay collages, for instance those in “Collages Over the Max”, “Two big ones”, and Four more from 2005-06″.

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