Lari Pittman, from a late western impaerium_Regen Projects, Los Angeles

09 November, 2013

Taking a cue from the titles of the large “Flying Carpet” paintings, the various sets of works on paper ask us to contemplate the current moment, with historical precedents in mind. Every nation needs an anthem, and the suite of drawings, New National Anthem and Lamentation Duet with Birds (After Puccini) is comprised of eight brightly-hued portraits overlaid with the renowned aria from Puccini’s Tosca, “Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore.” As a highly pitched and arch lament, this series of drawings rails against fate, loss, betrayal, and injustice. Other series of drawings in the exhibition demonstrate Pittman’s dexterity and range, his ability to glean images from across centuries and cultures and then re-present them as works on paper with a distinct bravura. Twelve Fayum From A Late Western Impaerium (After Hermenegildo Bustos) references Coptic mummy masks (Fayum), and 19th century Mexican portrait paintings of the middle-class. Set Arrangements of Ballet Mécanique for a Fossilized Nation (After Léger) evokes Dada, chaos, sound, and film. Other series of drawings in the exhibition take up contemporary elements, simultaneously suggesting an almost nostalgic nod to the past. What unites all of these works, however, is something more timeless: Pittman’s singular agility as an artist and draftsman.


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