Artist Lari Pittman opens a moving solo exhibition at the Museo Jumex in Mexico City

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“I wanted to create a painting that projects an exterior of this cultural insistence that artists are always like a thermometer and are expected to do the heavy lifting of cultural responses. I wanted to divest myself of this mandate. Here, he said, pointing sparkling city, a dense urban fantasy of intricately adorned towers and skyscrapers, behind him “it’s my insistence that the city shimmer”. He turns to the growing crowd. “How do you say dusk in Spanish?”

On view until February 23, “Lo que se ve, se pregunta” (What you see, you wonder), Pittman’s first retrospective in Latin America, looks back on the last 40 years of work of the artist with some of his finest paintings, drawings, sculptures and books by well-known artists, curated by Connie Butler of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, who also curated Pittman’s 2019 Hammer “Declaration of Independence” exhibition. Layering visual references to Mexican and Latin American craft traditions, Latin American magical realism, the AIDS crisis and the punk and feminist movements of the 80s and 90s, the contentious and shifting parameters of citizenship and, curiously, the owls – an iconic surrogate that often appears in Pittman’s work – the works obliquely approach many of the strongest political undercurrents of past generations.

While a student at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), he was a close ally of the school’s feminist art program, although he was not allowed to officially join. His closeness to the program allowed him to break out of the conceptualist traditions of the school and he began to incorporate domestic and decorative arts into his own work. Her more recent series “Portraits of Textiles” and “Portraits of Humans” (beginning in 2018) display a material knowledge of ornament by weaving Mexican quilts, textiles, wallpaper and fabrics. altarpieceor altar, paintings in his paintings, as well as intimacies of his own home.

His images also draw on the traditions of art historical painting, visually referencing the work of other artists such as the Mexican painter Hermenegildo Bustos (1832-1907). Pittman’s 1989-1990 series “Beloved and Despised” first showcases his queer identity and interpretations of gender. The collaged paintings feature Victorian-era silhouettes, shapes that carry a deeply classist and problematic subtext; bold graphics, such as neon-colored arrows, and more traditional flowers and landscapes. The “Once a Noun, Now a Verb” series (1997-1998) features genderless egg figures navigating between masculinity and machismo, reminiscent of Diego Rivera’s murals in Mexico City’s Palacio Nacional with the struggles and journeys in the maze of their characters. Even though they are decades old, they just like infinity sparkling cityoffer a map to another, more incredible realm.

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