\ Joshua Decter \ Lari Pittman \ David A. Ross \ Peter Schjeldahl \ Benjamin Weil \ Q&A \

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    Lari Pittman lives in Los Angeles, and is represented by Regen Projects in Los Angeles and Jay Gorney Modern Art in New York. His retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will open in June of 1996.

Name it, play it, refine it, and stick to it. Suffice it to say that his is the forty-something mantra for identity. My ongoing ambivalence to this litany is its uncanny mimicry of the linearity of modernism. Having being born in Los Angeles in 1952, spending my formative youth in South America, and coming of age as an artist in southern California, heavy investment in any polemic arising from the friction of oppositional dynamics remains baffling if not simply puritan. Aaron Spelling's Malibu is not Plymouth rock. Still the Modernist Art World fully teaches a morality born out of a binary logic; such antagonisms built its conceptual protocol, and now recites a failing Esperanto with the kind of elegant desperation evoked by Burt Lancaster in "The Leopard."

Journalistic criticism from coast to coast offer only binary bipolar reactions:

"My, the new-fangled things kids are doing!" Embracing, revealing, the fixed criteria by which art, then life are sequenced and thus experienced as a stable canon. Meanwhile, back at UCLA Graduate School, the mere mention of 1980's female media-based art stars creates a stir: Why are these under-25 female artists running and yelling "Mama I want to paint!" What is this? After all, anything prohibited immediately, and degraded immediately, becomes a magnet to any healthy youth. But it isn't just a casual thing that women and queers have aligned themselves with painting practices; the reasons seem very complex, and not perhaps without a hint of pathology.

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