Published September 24, 2020
When you see Laurie Lipton’s work for the first time, you won’t need to take a closer look. Yet. You’ll instantly be blown away by the insane level of stark detail in her pencil drawings. And you’ll be shocked to know that she draws from her imagination. She isn’t copying from photographs and she doesn’t get “inspiration” from outside. She must invent her art. All of it.
Lipton’s techniques are created from scratch where she builds up tone with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines like an egg tempera painting from the European masters she has long admired. While her process sounds excruciating at times, she explains that once she applies a huge outline, charcoal, and graphite to accomplish the details, she hardly ever erases anything. Lipton, who was the first person to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine Arts Degree in Drawing (with honors), is more inspired by the religious artworks of the Flemish school than the de rigeur conceptual art in the art academy. “It’s an insane way to draw, but the resulting detail and luminosity is worth the amount of effort. My drawings take longer to create than a painting of equal size and detail”, Lipton explains. Overall, in spite of a viewer’s probable bias against dark and macabre art, Lipton’s chiascuro images will make them smile, as each of the depth and abundance of detail pulls them into each drawing.
Laurie Lipton’s work, while staying true to terrifying and complicated themes, skewers natural and societal nightmares, from a deep sense of anxiety to wasted resources, hate-mongering politicians, and the powerful selfie culture. Her work has been extensively exhibited and published throughout the world. She has been living and working in Los Angeles after 36 years overseas and continues to make art. If you come across her art in person or on the internet, Lipton says “It’s not like the kind of color field work you just go on and you look at for two seconds and move one. You have to really look at the details.” Now you know that Lipton’s work requires a closer look. A double take, a second visit--perhaps to remind us that we are all species of doom.