This Saturday night, New Yorkers will be treated to the dark and detailed graphite drawings from Laurie Lipton. Featuring imagery characteristic of the Day of the Dead festival as well as her distinctive cross-hatching technique of creating depth and luminosity in her work, Carnival of Death should not be missed. She sat down for a short interview with AM leading up the opening on October 1st at Last Rites Gallery.
Questions and answers after the jump…
Arrested Motion (AM): Tell us about this new body of work for Last Rites. It seems that Day of the Dead imagery plays a large role in some of your paintings. What is it about the holiday that inspires you so much?
Laurie Lipton (LL): I became fascinated by the contrast between the DAY OF THE DEAD festival in Mexico and my experience of my mother’s death. My parents were atheists. We had no ceremony, no goodbyes, no “closure”. I was left with Nothing… literally and metaphysically. Friends & family treated my mother’s death like an embarrassment. They awkwardly murmured Hallmark platitudes before slinking uneasily away. Death is as forbidden a topic in my culture as sex was in Victorian England. In Mexico, however, it is celebrated like a normal part of existence and not ignored. My trip to Mexico was an eye-opener and I decided to rebel against my society and create images inspired by the Day of the Dead.
AM: You said once in an interview “I set impossible tasks for myself; a thousand faces, a city with every window showing, a landscape with each blade of grass………” We love your attention to detail and your compositions are so complex & awe-inspiring. When and why do you think you decided to work on such a grand and ambitious scale?
LL: I decided to work like that when I saw Jan Van Eyck’s “Lamb of God” painting in Ghent, Belgium in my early 20’s. It made me gasp in awe and wonder. I saw God is in the details.
AM: Can you explain to us more about the use of fine cross-hatching lines in your drawings and what kind of advantages it affords as well as how you developed the technique?
LL: I developed my own unique technique of drawing after trying, and failing, to paint like the Flemish Masters of the early Renaissance. I ached after the detail in their pictures. I couldn’t figure out how to paint those little lines that they used, so I began to draw using tiny strokes of the pencil. Then I found a permanent point pencil. I built-up areas of tone using thousands of lines. It’s an insane and tedious technique, but enables me to achieve beautiful grays and clear details. I never, ever smudge.
AM: I have read that you have read the bible and koran cover to cover among many other religious books yet your parents were atheists. Has this search for truth influenced your artmaking and have you come to a conclusion on the subject after all the research you have done?
LL: Of course my search has influenced my art because it influenced me. After many years of reading and following various disciplines, I have come to the conclusion that I know nothing. However… I still feel deep awe and reverence when contemplating the mystery and vastness of existence.
AM: Any other shows or projects coming up that you can share with us?
LL: I have a piece called, La Luz, in the La Luz de Jesus Gallery’s 25th Anniversary show and have a solo show at Last Rights Gallery in NYC. For more information, and to see the work, please click here.
AM: Thanks Laurie. All the best with the shows.