Lari Pittman hasn’t made paintings this dark in nearly 20 years. Most of them landscapes, their backgrounds are dominated by inky blues, leathery browns and pitch blacks. Foreground imagery seems shockingly illuminated, as if by lightning or something phosphorescent. Back in the mid-1980s there was an autobiographical reason for the darkness: Pittman was recovering from near-fatal gunshot wounds, a trauma that catalysed his breakthrough work of that time and lay behind its obscured internal bodily imagery. Although in a literal sense the new paintings locate themselves anywhere but in the here and now (unlike his exuberant work of the 1990s), it’s hard to peer into their gloom without sensing that the political condition of America is in some way responsible for their atmosphere of menace and despair.
The ten new works, of equal size, are the closest Pittman has come to that most traditional thing, painting as a window to a world. Gone, for the most