“I fear death and oblivion the most, which is why I try to capture, on paper, the fleeting horror and wonder of being alive.” -Laurie Lipton
Laurie Lipton thinks in images and renders her psychically rich inner world visible via detailed pencil on paper drawings. Throughout her work, Lipton complicates conventional notions of the grotesque by intertwining elements of beauty, domesticity, humor, horror, life and death. Lipton’s curious assemblage of characters, their expressions and her use of chiaroscuro rearticulate the knowable world.
Lipton reveals the ways in which typically mundane objects and relationships are rife with peculiarities and absurdities by imagining machines as living and breathing entities with functioning arteries and, conversely, by imagining humans as extensions of machines unable to function as simply human. When Lipton gives a conventional 1950s housewife a clown face or makes skeletons the drivers of automobiles that go nowhere except “Round & Round” she challenges superficial intelligence and conformist associations.
Ace Gallery presents to Laurie Lipton’s “L.A. Sous-Real,” an exhibition of the artist’s most recent drawings. With an understated elegance and savvy innocence, these works exemplify Lipton’s technical prowess and depict her bizarre encounters upon relocating back to the United States from London.
“I am in the peculiar position of being a foreigner in my own country. I just moved back to the USA after living in Europe for over 36 years (more than half my life). This show is about my first impressions of this new/old home.
“Sous-Real” is a play on the term “Surreal”. “Sur” is the French word for “on,” whereas “Sous” means underneath. My drawings are not concerned with surrealism or dreams. They try to capture the psychological underbelly of everyday reality. Each piece takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, so why waste it on something I don’t care about? “L.A. Sous-Real” is a passionate response to Los Angeles, my strange and other-worldy city”.
Laurie Lipton was born in New York and began drawing detailed images at the age of four. She was the first person to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine Arts Degree in Drawing (with honors). She has lived in Holland, Belgium, Germany, France and London.
Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the USA. Notably, in 2003 Lipton was asked to create a series of works in response to Francisco Goya’s “Caprichos” lithographs. The exhibition, titled “The Sleep of Reason” was curated and exhibited by the Cervantes Institute in London and later traveled to Spain for an exhibition in Caja Madrid. It featured 10 Goyas (many of which had never left Spain before) and 20 drawings by Lipton each titled after one of Goya’s works.
Lipton was inspired by the religious paintings of the Flemish School. She tried to teach herself how to paint in the style of the 17th century Dutch Masters and failed. When traveling around Europe as a student, she began developing her very own peculiar drawing technique building up tone with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines like an egg tempera painting. "It's an insane way to draw", she says, "but the resulting detail and luminosity is worth the amount of effort".