Gerhardsen Gerner

Lari Pittman Previous Shows 2017

Lari Pittman


Lari Pittman

Exhibition duration:      August 24 – September 2017 

“A reflective, sensational surface is still a conduit for meaning,” (Lari Pittman) 

Gerhardsen Gerner is very pleased to announce the first solo exhibition with Los Angeles-based painter Lari Pittman in Oslo.

With the work series "21st Century Sampler with 19th Century Poetry", Pittman shows 14 medium format paintings on wood. Here, he integrates entire text passages into his pictures, which turn out to be poems by the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86). Today, Emily Dickinson is counted among the most influential American lyricists. In her lifetime, however, only ten poems from her total canon of almost 1800 poems were published. In the middle of the 1850s, after the anonymous publication of few poems in local newspapers and a resulting family scandal – the author of the poems was ultimately unmasked –, Dickinson withdrew into inner exile.

Pittman's complex paintings are always based on an abundance of signs and symbols. The artist's work can be described as semantic, because it creates a kind of linguistic system within painting. Meshes of lines, shapes, colour fields, shadings and image layers combine to form a greater whole, building up its own cosmos of meaning. It is just like how language uses characters, words and sentences to weave a fabric of meaning with endless levels of understanding, which have generated tragic misunderstandings and lucky coincidences over the course of time.

Similar to that of Emily Dickinson, Pittman's work is characterized by the theme of the inner view, which is influenced by the outside, but only addresses the outside through encrypted and enigmatic messages. The viewer looks for clues to be able to surrender to the illusion of being able to interpret or to 'see through' the work. Dickinson's poetry brings a further and, at first sight, seemingly accessible layer to Pittman's work: the letters can be deciphered. But Pittman plays with Dickinson's words. He does not only illustrate, using symbols from our modern day-to-day culture as well as the decorative arts of the 19th century, but he also translates the sound and atmosphere of Dickinson's poetry into a spectacular interplay of color, shapes and intermeshing lines. 

Lari Pittman was born in 1952 in Glendale, California, and lives and works in Los Angeles, where he is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. 
Pittman has been awarded the J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship Grant in Painting, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Painting, and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting. He participated in Documenta X (1997) and four Whitney Biennial exhibitions (1985, 1993, 1995, 1997), and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at notable institutions including: the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; Le Consortium, Dijon; the Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; the Corcoran Museum, Washington; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and Villa Arson, Nice.

Pittman’s work is placed in renowned international art collections, among then The Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Goetz Collection, Munich; or The Kistefos Museum, Oslo.

For further information please contact Atle Gerhardsen, Gerhardsen Gerner, Oslo T: +47 21 91 01 91, or visit our website at