Lari Pittman – Nocturnes at Thomas Dane Gallery
Lari Pittman’s impressive new series Nocturnes is awash with the agony of an overloaded mind struggling to assert itself, whilst never skimping on rich and imaginative sensual rewards. This work has been promoted as borrowing influences from pop art, rococo, pattern-and-decoration and folk art. Yet there’s still an undeniable individuality to the ten paintings that feature a gamut of images from mystic insignias to skyscrapers to giant robots.
This exhibition is split between smaller monochromatic parts and much larger and explosively powerful canvases. His larger paintings have a rigid flatness that co-exists with a seemingly unrestrained profusion of layers and details; each one features a different primary colour scheme to distinguish it, be it lime/yellow, orange/blue or purple/ochre. These artworks are inherently difficult to channel with written words, due to their lack of an obvious focus within the fracas of shapes and fonts that have been seemingly twisted and contorted by the artist into temporary submission. It’s easy to imagine them unfreezing as soon as you turn your back. And indeed, Pittman’s recurring pasting of saws and hammers links free-association ideas to the reality of the hard grind that the artist must face to maintain any semblance of control over his frame under the restless cascade of the subconscious.
Further to the idea of dream-influenced creativity, the black-and-white pieces include fewer things to look at but are no easier to digest. They feature strands of webbing spanning against the gaping maw of the cosmos – which is seen to a lesser extent in the background of the larger Nocturnes also, with eggs, birds, human-bird hybrids and even a toilet, all intersecting within this tenuous space. Is Pittman communicating a message here? Or, is there no longer any attainable synchronicity within our grasp?
The Nocturnes on display confound more than they reveal, and they certainly will not satisfy passive observers, and yet they are strangely calming in spite of the frenzy of Pittman’s style. And what a style it is. One can’t imagine the artist ever doing his work differently, such is the confidence and flair with which he brings us these unforgettable paintings.
Lari Pittman – Nocturnes is at Thomas Dane Gallery from 6th February until 19th March 2016, for further information visit here.