13 September – 26 October 1996
White Cube Duke Street
Lari Pittman describes how his highly decorated paintings operate within what he calls ‘bittersweet time,’ a state in which events weave together in dense webs, and from which he constructs intimate and theatrical scenes charged with emotional, political and philosophical meaning. Pittman condenses what appear to be complex personal histories into one fundamental picture by layering seemingly unrelated, incompatible images so that they inhabit a single image.
In these paintings, light bulbs glow, cameras flash, and arrows point, amid soaring skyscrapers, hovering helicopters and shiny satellite dishes. Combined with these fragmentary glimpses of the urban scene are cartoon figures, red hearts, smiling lips, Christmas tree baubles, praying hands, businessmen, photographers and skateboarders, as well as decorative patterns of raised white dots that look like icing on a cake (made by dripping paint from a cup). Pittman’s fast and noisy paintings are made in the most painstaking manner. Baroque decoration and popular iconography are rendered onto wooden panels in an orgy of bright oil and acrylic colour, sometime mixed with sparkles. Pittman speaks of injecting an element of sexiness into his painting that, distorted and lurid, is both attractive and repulsive.