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No Careerism Here : Richard Artschwager has doggedly pursued his artistic vision, at the expense of notoriety.

May 06, 1997|KRISTINE McKENNA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Of the recurrence of architectural fragments as the subject of these paintings, Artschwager says, "I was living in an old house in upstate New York where I had a small room with windows on two sides. I'd made some drawings of interiors that I liked, so I decided to make paintings of what was around me in this room. Then I made a list of the things in the paintings and enlarged them into another series of paintings--what I was doing was essentially a form of passionate narrowing."

At Burnett Miller, Artschwager will show Celotex paintings and several sculptures inspired by shipping crates. "I hadn't liked anything I'd made for a while," recounts the artist, "then one day as I was leaving the shop, I noticed a large crate sitting by the door and thought I'd like to make something as good as that. A crate is a skin, but it's also the thing itself. It's contradictory, strong and less fussy than the stuff I'd been making, so it appealed to me."

As to which tradition his crate sculptures belong to, Artschwager says, "I've tried to avoid any categorization or school and consequently my endeavor has been scattered and not too well-tended in terms of career.

"I'm driven in regards to turning a page, but career is something else entirely," he says. "Seeing something you've never seen before is the whole thing as far as I'm concerned. And when that new thing that initially puzzles you finally clicks into place in your head--damn, it's like a drug."

* Richard Artschwager's work goes on view Saturday at Burnett Miller Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave, B-2, Santa Monica. (310) 315-9961.

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