Annie Lapin


at The Pasadena Museum of California Art



Just after her debut exhibition at Angles Gallery in 2008, the young L.A. painter Annie Lapin was invited to mount an installation in a 42-by-22-foot gallery at the nonprofit Grand Arts in Kansas City. In Parallel Deliria (2008), she spilled her work off the walls and onto the floor, filling the space with layers of painted Tyvek, tulle, fishing line and silver tape. It was clear that her earlier landscape paintings, however jarring and colorful, and dense with references to art history, architecture, fairy tales and myths, were constraining her ambitions. Slicing, dicing and ornamenting painted images of forests, mud-banks and rivers, Lapin created a kind of allover experience of nature with multiple perspectives and points of view.

Lapin’s sequel at the Pasadena Museum, “Parallel Deliria Iteration,” is even more sculptural. Resembling a stage, it is framed by proscenium-like forms made of flexible, orange-painted Tyvek. Large fragmented paintings of nature surround the room on all the walls and partly carpet the floors. Hanging, crudely rendered figures include what appear to be two winged angels with foil-paper eyes and a hulking character whose heart is pierced by a foil sword.

Lapin has augmented the gallery’s exposed industrial piping—the kind visible on the ceiling—with 12 variously sized lengths of black PVC pipe hung at eye level with fishing line. These segment the space horizontally and diagonally. Similarly raw-looking cement bricks placed here and there on the floor suggest an influx of industrial rubble into the “natural” setting. There is no formal pathway through the mazelike installation, and viewers wander and poke about, stepping on the painted Tyvek-covered floor and dodging other hanging objects of various sorts.

For the current “Iteration,” the artist has recycled chopped-up and repainted elements of the Grand Arts installation. Flickering constellations of green laser lights are projected throughout, glittering against sheets of black paper. Swaths of diaphanous red tulle and long strips of bright silver industrial tape add colorful flourishes to the funky yet weirdly elegant scene. In this context, the sculptural figures transcend their somewhat kitschy fairy-tale references, and seem more like props in an odd romantic opera.

Lapin has explained that she intends to create multiple painterly compositions in three-dimensional space. Judy Pfaff and Jessica Stockholder, whose works similarly lie at the intersection of painting, sculpture and architecture, come to mind. By comparison less resolved and more freewheeling, Lapin’s installation succeeds as a kind of addled Wordsworthian nature reverie. Like many young artists in L.A., Lapin seems to be intent on subverting legible content and clear associations. Yet despite such obfuscation, her neoromantic blur communicates with strangely promising appeal.