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60 seconds with . . . Lari Pittman

ART

October 18, 2007|Dean Kuipers

To look at one of his paintings is to fall into a wilderness of delicious artifice. The UCLA professor, 55, will be featured on PBS' "Art: 21" on Oct. 28 and has a show at L.A.'s Regen Projects II that, with its Chagall- like peasants and eggs in an iron pot, departs from his deeply coded style.

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The work really started changing with the [2005] show I did for the Gladstone Gallery in New York that showed different rooms of a house. In mid-career, exactly where I am now, that's where most artists falter. . . . Maybe the work is going through what appears to be a literalization of images. But that doesn't mean that the content isn't still somewhat coded.

WHERE DID THIS DOMESTIC THEME COME FROM? IT'S UNUSUAL FOR YOUR WORK.

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DO YOU AGREE WITH ART WRITERS WHO SAY YOUR WORK IS QUINTESSENTIALLY L.A.?

[Laughs] I have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. That is a comment that's most often made by baby boomers; they still have a nostalgic idea of regionalism. Contemporary culture has incredible similarities in Berlin, Brooklyn, Copenhagen, London.

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SO YOU'RE NOT TAKING VISUAL CUES FROM YOUR STUDIO IN LOS FELIZ?

I am a snob in some ways, but I'm not a snob when it comes to reconnaissance and observation. Driving from my studio to my home in La Crescenta, I pay attention to everything.

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WHERE DO YOU GO IN L.A. FOR INSPIRATION?

I love retail culture. I'm a shopper. I look at design, textiles. . . . I'm very interested in furniture design. From La Brea corridor to Beverly to 3rd Street to Robertson, all those corridors of retail I know well.

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WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

I'll always take the time to look at the women's clothes and shoes. It's not that I'm interested at all in wearing them, but I am interested to see how they're made and what ornamentation is taking place. It's not that it's a correct view of American culture, but it is a view.

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-- Dean.Kuipers@latimes.com

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