Laurie Lipton’s “Carnival of the Dead”

by Kirsten AndersonPosted on

This month sees a new exhibition by artist Laurie Lipton atthe go-to gallery for the dark arts, Last Rites in New York, entitled “Carnivalof the Dead”. Lipton’s fascinatingly unnerving drawings combine the mirthful franknessof Day of the Dead celebrations with their irreverent humor in depicting thedead in living situations, such as dances, afternoon teas, riding the train…butwith out the usual cartoonishness that characterizes much the Mexicandepictions of death (ie: candy skulls, the pervasive work of Jose Guadalupe Posada).She instead substitutes hyper detailed, ornate line work that fills the whole canvasalongside the rigidity of Victorian mourning themes, religieous iconography,and realistically rendered corpses and anatomically precise skeletons.

Some ofthe works blends Lipton’s gallows humor (such as desiccated mummies standingaround waiting for a subway) with enough macabre somberity to make the viewerlaugh, albeit a bit uncomfortably. “Meticulous” as a descriptive word for artgets thrown around a lot, but Lipton’s ultra rendered work really put a finepoint on it. Made of thousands and thousands of built up tiny crosshatcheslines to build light and depth, they reveal a staggering amount ofinfinitesimal detail. This series deals with the view of death in variouscultures, from the embracing of it in Mexican cultures to our own reticence tobarely acknowledge it exists, let alone deal with the fact that it’s one of thefew certainties in life we can all rely on. Lipton’s mastery of graphite shouldnot be missed by anyone in the New York area.

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