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Lari Pittman

September 23 – October 22, 2011
515 West 24th Street
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Gladstone Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Lari Pittman. In this exhibition, Pittman presents both large and small-scale works that reflect upon themes of musicality and time, intimately linking each within an engrossing tableaux of Dutch still-lifes, images of guitars, portraiture and words connoting musical styles. While Pittman’s visual vocabulary has continually tested the limits of metaphor, meaning and aesthetics, these works address an emotive intensity that is at once personal and universal in its meditation upon time, mortality, longing and loss.

In his new body of work, Pittman further mines a myriad range of sources to create a richly evocative mixture of readymade iconography and his own symbolic language, deftly moving between recognizable motifs and the shifting resonances of his uncanny forms. These densely layered surfaces are shaped by a collision of imagery that speedily oscillates among Pittman's varied mark-making techniques to generate a simultaneity of formal and narrative events.

Often organizing each exhibition thematically, Pittman revisits this structure to establish a “music room” that focuses upon a series of five paintings inspired by a tradition of Spanish and Portuguese musical genres related to deep emotional states, such as sorrow, yearning and lament.  In these paintings, Pittman links the underlying musicality inherent in his work to images of guitars, still-lifes with fish and fruit, and words such as "saeta" and “fado,” forging connections between the transience of his painterly forms, mortality, and the ineluctable passage of time. Like Pittman’s earlier works, these paintings’ recurrent undertones of nostalgia point to the lingering traces of personal and collective pasts that Pittman revives with a bittersweet touch. Throughout his career, Pittman has continually probed the repressed conditions of modern art's enterprise (from the decorative to the stylized) to offer ever-evolving fields of aesthetic excess that provides not only images, but cultural, personal, and above all, human moments.

Born in 1952 in Glendale, California, Lari Pittman has been awarded the J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship Grant in Painting, National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship Grants in Painting and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting. His recent solo exhibitions include: Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Corcoran Museum, Washington DC; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Villa Arson, Nice, France. Pittman lives and works in Los Angeles, where he is a professor of art at UCLA.