Lari Pittman, Untitled #3, 2010. Acrylic, Cel-Vinyl, and aerosol lacquer on gessoed canvas over panel 102 x 88 inches (259.1 x 223.5 cm). LARI PITTMAN: New Paintings and Orangerie. September 11 – October 23, 2010 at Regen Projects and Regen Projects II. Image courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles.
Postmodernism is known for its utter rejection of the pursuit of objective truth. There is no objectivity in Postmodernism, no underlying philosophical diagram or ideal model of perfection. Put simply, there are too many damn “truths” to be aware of today, too many “isms,” if you will, to account for a single worldview. Postmodernism opened the floodgates for alternativism and its infiltration of mainstream culture.
When I was first introduced to Lari Pittman’s work he seemed to be the post-modern poster boy of queer culture. His depictions of cocks, credit cards, and glitter led a kind of explosive exploration into gay beauty and decoration, inspiring artists as diverse as Mark Dutcher and Margaret Killgallen. What initially drew me into Pittman’s oeuvre was not his depiction of a subculture, per se, but his absolute commitment to taking illustration and decoration seriously — utilizing both of these seemingly everyday art forms as a means to achieve a meta-exploration of glut and the onslaught of seductive imagery in a contemporary Metropolis.
Lari Pittman Untitled #2 2009 Matte oil, aerosol lacquer, and Cel-Vinyl on gessoed paper, 30 x 22 1/4 inches (76.2 x 56.5 cm). Image courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles.
Pittman fluidly transcends notions of race, gender and individuality, and crochets his transparent imagery into the psyche of a straight white girl like myself. I want to fully experience his surfaces, lick the metallic paint, brush the texture of the simulated low relief bubbles with my fingertips. Pittman has survived all of the “isms” of the past thirty years in his practice as a painter from Post-modernism to Altermodernism and has achieved a kind of cult fame as a knower of the deepest truth possible (objective or not): the knowledge of self.
O me, man of slack faith so long,
Standing aloof, denying portions so long,
Only aware to-day of compact all-diffused truth,
Discovering to-day there is no lie or form of lie, and can be none,
but grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does upon itself,
Or as any law of the earth or any natural production of the earth does.
(This is curious and may not be realized immediately, but it must be realized,
I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest, And that the universe does.)
Where has fail’d a perfect return indifferent of lies or the truth?
Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man? or in the meat and blood?
Meditating among liars and retreating sternly into myself, I see that there are really no liars or lies after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return, and that what are called lies are perfect returns,
And that each thing exactly represents itself and what has preceded it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact just as much as space is compact,
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth–but that all is truth without exception;
And henceforth I will go celebrate any thing I see or am,
And sing and laugh and deny nothing.
All is Truth- Walt Whitman
Lari Pittman, Untitled, 2000. Acrylic, alkyd, and aerosol on paper, 30 1/2 inches x 47 1/2 inches. Image courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles.
Pittman’s show at Regen Projects has moments of visual ecstasy where a single line edged with airbrushed yellow dots become abstract footlights on an imaginary stage. And others where the edge of a canvas has striped distortion at the top to remind you that a person was here for a moment, leaving his signature in wondrous imperfection. In their sister space, Regen Projects II, Pittman’s concurrent show of drawings entitled Orangerie shout at the viewer with acerbic pleasure atop a hand painted green and gold trellis wall. Outrageous and obnoxious, the drawings are an overwhelming lot that somehow pull his aesthetic together, creating a composition that is as un-decorative as pure bricolage can be, simultaneously shallow and deep. Like fine Persian rugs, his works are woven together, replete with the incidental accident as a reminder of just how graceful we humans can be when we celebrate our own truths without exception[.]
LARI PITTMAN: New Paintings and Orangerie, September 11 – October 23, 2010 at Regen Projects and Regen Projects II. www.regenprojects.com
This post was contributed by Mary Anna Pomonis