Lari Pittman Drawings continues the University Art Museum's commitment to presenting the work of vanguard contemporary artists. This is Pittman's first mid-career survey, and also an opportunity to explore crucial social, political, and art historical issues. The credit for this project rests with UAM curator, Elizabeth A. Brown, who enjoys the institutional and intellectual challenges such difficult complex, and emotionally provocative work engenders. For the exhibition and catalogue she has selected 49 examples of Pittman's paintings on paper, which he has created in series over the past fifteen years. Brown's essay provides a requisite prolegomenon for contextualizing and "reading" the artist's remarkably complicated but ultimately spectacular pictures. Her eloquent and illuminating text captions draw us further into the verbal and visual language of individual drawings or groups of drawings.
Pittman's paintings are replete with recognizable motifs and evocative spaces. they sketch the elements of several narratives, one of which is the story of constructing a picture itself. Another strand is the artist's account of his consciousness a particular sense of being in the world.
A second important facet of Pittman's work is its intense ornamentation, its over-the-top decorative excess. Decoration is his primary strategy for simultaneity, multiplicity, and ambiguity in his independent work. Confronting the binary opposition of intellectual/austere and frivolous/dense underlying considerable art criticism. Pittman devises new ways of exploiting decorative structures to hold multiple narratives simultaneously, among them continuous narration, medallions or cameos of inserted scenes, overlapping distinct scenes, and hieratic scale.
Pittman's art is about pleasure, starting with the pleasure of painting itself.