Laurie Lipton Skewers Tech-Love in Darkly Humorous Drawings

From the fridge and air conditioning to our smartphones, technology sets us free. Or does it? Maybe it traps us in wires that separate us more than they connect us.

That's a question posed in the amazing artworks of Laurie Lipton.

Laurie Lipton at work, drawing On; photo by Lucia Loiso.
Laurie Lipton at work, drawing ON; photo by Lucia Loiso.

From the fridge and air conditioning to our smartphones, technology sets us free. Or does it? Maybe it traps us in wires that separate us more than they connect us.

That’s a question posed in the amazing artworks of Laurie Lipton.

Lipton, who has been living and working in Los Angeles after 36 years overseas, makes large, highly detailed, black and white pencil drawings that explore the dark side of our love affair with technology.

Her most recent show is called Techno Rococo and it is on display at the Ace Gallery on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

You can hear our interview with her on this DnA segment (above). It’s part of a broadcast on Apple, the FBI and the design of surveillance. Read on for more about the artist, below.

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WIRED 2013, 82″ x 64″, charcoal & pencil on paper; by Laurie Lipton

Laurie Lipton, the first person to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pennsylvania with a Fine Arts Degree in Drawing (with honors), says she was more inspired by the religious paintings of the Flemish School than the conceptual art that is de rigeur in the art academy.

She developed her own labor-intensive drawing technique in which she builds up tone with thousands of fine cross-hatching lines “like an egg tempera painting” by the European masters she has long admired.

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VIRTUAL REALITY 2015, 44.5″ x 65″, charcoal & pencil on paper; by Laurie Lipton

The result is highly detailed, chiaroscuro images that shock as they make you smile, with a depth and abundance of detail that pulls you into each image.

Lipton told DnA, “It’s not like the kind of color field work you just go and you look (at) for two seconds and move on. You have to really look at the detail.”

And what can one take away from such hyperreal but surreal imagery? Says Lipton, “Oh I don’t know, it’s like the oceans are filled with plastic. We’re killing ourselves. We’re choking our food supply, all for the sake of greed and technology.”

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OFF 2013, 92.25″ x 69.5″, charcoal & pencil on paper; by Laurie Lipton

Gilliam is one of the talking heads in a new documentary about Laurie Lipton called “Love Bite,” directed by Jim Scott, that will screen at this month’s SXSW. Gilliam is the director whose oeuvre includes one of the best-known dystopian movies, Brazil.

About Laurie Lipton, he says, What she’s dealing with is what everybody has inside them, in one form or another. And most people are probably frightened to recognize it. We put it down in the basement and keep the trap door shut. I think so much of modern art is decorative. To me it has no meaning, it has no substance…. and yet art to me has always been something to trigger within you the things you may not have thought about, the things that frighten, the things you don’t want to talk about.”

Techno Rococo is on show through April 2016 at Ace Gallery, at 5514 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036. See a review of Laurie’s work, below.