Gladstone Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Lari Pittman, his first at our Brussels location. Best known for his brightly colored, densely layered works, which combine readymade iconography and his own symbolic language, Pittman draws on the art historical tradition of painting, while simultaneously overturning conventional notions of perspective, subject matter, and composition. The result is a body of dazzling, intricately crafted work, shaped by a collision of figurative imagery and abstract, geometric forms.
Curiosities from a Late Western Impaerium features a series of eighty-two works on paper, framed individually, but exhibited together in groups, evoking a Renaissance-style Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities. Pittman often arranges his works thematically, and this exhibition reflects that interest, as the works are organized into distinct groupings of “curiosities,” displayed in carefully selected arrangements, or “cabinets.” As with a traditional cabinet of wonders, the exhibition explores subject matter as diverse as brain scans, manifestos and political posters, needlepoints with antidepressants, snow globes with dead architecture, highway signs warning of cannibalism, and genetically engineered plant life, presenting the works as specimens to be scrutinized and examined. Taken together, the works reveal a loose narrative thread that weaves together elements from the past with those from our contemporary reality, exploring the way history is constructed, categorized, and defined, and presenting a vision of history defined by the inventions, discoveries, and quotidian minutiae that compose everyday life.
Pittman’s formal practice is rooted in a visual vocabulary tied to the art historical tradition of painting, and through his distinctly contemporary works, Pittman proposes a new vision for creating a modern incarnation of the history painting. His works contain a formal and conceptual tension, revealed through the interplay of layered imagery and abstract forms, which encourage the viewer to engage with the works from multiple perspectives. As Pittman says, “Certainly the dynamic motion in a Pittman painting stimulates in me the itch to capture, and yet the act of capture remains suspended.” This sense of being and becoming is articulated in Pittman’s multi-faceted works through his deft incorporation of cultural signifiers from disparate time periods and international locales.
Pittman was born in 1952 in Glendale, California, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, where he is a professor at University of California Los Angeles. Pittman has been awarded the J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship Grant in Painting, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grants in Painting, and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting. He participated in Documenta X (1997) and four Whitney Biennial exhibitions (1985, 1993, 1995, 1997), and has had solo exhibitions at notable institutions including: The Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; Le Consortium, Dijon, France; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Corcoran Museum, Washington DC; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and Villa Arson, Nice, France.
515 West 24th Street
March 7 – April 26, 2014
Caterpillar Logic II
530 West 21st Street
February 28 – April 19, 2014