Annie Lapin makes paintings. That is, she creates compositions that, while absorbing and reconstituting familiar elements of landscape, gesture, abstraction, figure, space, atmospheric color and phenomena, remain so assertively strange that viewers must always remember they are looking at paintings.
Her work constantly refers to the accretive process by which memory and perception are constructed, so that while neither pure abstraction nor absolutely pictorial, the works can flourish as both and neither compositions whose true subject is cognition itself. A suite of affecting new paintings is currently on view at Shulamit Nazarian in Hollywood.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ANNIE LAPIN: It was late in college when I realized that painting was a great pathway for thinking about the things that had always preoccupied me — questions about how we see, how we know what we think we “know.” As you might guess from the last sentence I’ve always been suspicious of a certain kind of “knowing” especially when it comes to myself, so I don’t think I can point to a moment when I first “knew” I was an artist. But I admit that I am one now.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
The thing that drives me is a desire to recreate the contradictory perceptions and sets of information that our minds overlook to maintain continuous experiences of consciousness... creating scenes within the bounds of a painting that are at once unified and disparate and that shift depending where you focus your attention.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I fantasize about neuroscientific studies, or medical fields, or physics. But recently I took one of those psychodynamic career assessment quizzes, which listed painter, carpenter or contractor.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I went to art school because it seemed like a good way to continue to study what I was interested in through painting, and I thought I’d end up making a living more as an academic and a professor than a painter. Turned out the reverse was true, although I still get to teach sometimes.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I live in L.A. because I went to UCLA for my MFA (applying on a whim due to prodding from my brother) and after having gone to school here, and experimenting with living in New York, I found financially and in other ways L.A. was an easier place to make art.
When was your first show?
My first solo exhibition was in 2008 at Angles Gallery in Santa Monica.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
Strange Little Beast is currently up at Shulamit Nazarian, through December 21.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Not enough. It’s a lot of science and history podcasts these days, like Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast.