Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Strange Little Beast, a solo exhibition of new works by Los Angeles-based painter Annie Lapin. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Annie Lapin’s paintings call attention to the human desire for meaning making–our effort to create order out of chaos. In Strange Little Beast, Lapin’s paintings use her interest in art history, perception, and the materiality of painting itself to examine the role of digital technology and narrative building in our contemporary moment.
Lapin’s ability to merge representational scenes such as forests, oceans, figures, and animals with pure abstraction creates simultaneous points of view within a single painting, without hierarchy. The artist combines ‘classical’ landscapes: spaces with depth, logical perspective, and historical precedence, with ‘iconic’ landscapes: generic environments that we conjure in our minds through the amalgamation of countless culturally constructed images. In her paintings, Lapin pushes this contradictory imagery to the point of fracturing. The artist examines how our understanding of the world is a process that occurs simultaneously through our use of memory and through the direct experience of sight.
The artist incorporates an array of art historical scenes such as John Martin’s English-Romantic apocalypses and Edouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass with ubiquitous imagery sourced from the Internet. The highly rendered areas in her paintings resemble a cascade of Google image search results where cellphone photos of skylines and gardens slide past gestural marks. Not only do the spatial qualities of these images counteract one another, their logic is also visually disrupted by the surface and material of the painting itself. For example, a seemingly digitally-produced, artificial sunset is pierced with globules of red paint; an airbrushed gesture equally calls forth a line of graffiti on a wall, or a rushing waterfall in the distance. This oscillation between foreground and background is occasionally broken by the linen substrate peeking through the mayhem, reminding the viewer of the material surface of the painting.
While making her paintings, the artist moves between the canvas and computer, constructing worlds with both chaos and control; a back-and-forth process within the technological landscape and the painted landscape. The artist paints into gestural ink spills with highly rendered, digitally-sourced imagery, pointing to the abundance of virtual images at our disposal and how they inform and construct our understanding of the world. An object isn’t simply an object in her painting; it is the thousands of images that appear in one’s head to conjure the idea of that object. Through multiple layers of digital and analog representations, the artist blurs the use of accidental mark-making and elaborate construction. A moment in Lapin’s paintings can make it unclear whether a spill or a drip is one of intuition, careful execution, or executed intuition. This visual slippage and dislocation reflects a process of free association in an era where our minds operate and our bodies move in tandem with the digital world.
The landscape has been a source of awe, anxiety, and the sublime throughout art history. In Lapin’s paintings, the fracturing scenes don’t open up to just one vista. Instead, the expansive nature of the landscape occurs between moments of logic- making, as our eye jumps from one island to another in an effort to locate recognizable representations of the world. Through this tension, Lapin depicts the sublime with equal parts violence and repose. In a world where our sense of time seems to have sped up – be it through the rapidly changing environment or the immediacy of our communication – Lapin’s paintings filter these experiences while also providing relief in the desire to place ourselves in an ever expanding narrative.
Annie Lapin (b. 1978, Washington, D.C.) received her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2007, her Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, and her BA from Yale University in 2001. Annie Lapin lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Miles McEnery Gallery, New York; Honor Fraser, Los Angeles; Josh Lilley, London; Annarumma Gallery, Naples; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; Yautepec Gallery, Mexico City; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara. Annie Lapin’s work is included in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Orange County Museum of Art, Rubell Family Collection, Santa Barbara Museum, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Zabludowicz Collection.