Lari Pittman's seductive symbolic vocabulary embraces logos and text, creatures and people, decorative patterns and references to sex, death, AIDS and homosexuality. His intricate, labor-intensive canvases delineate a cosmos that is at once highly personal and yet completely universal; his inimitable style can be described as hard-edged and meticulous on the one hand, yet freewheeling and vibrant on the other. (His work is semi-autobiographical; the things that turn up in his paintings are often the things that turn up in his life.) At its most powerful, his work hits on deeper issues of sex, gender, vulnerability, consumption and death -- which is interesting because the work is sometimes superficial in appearance. Pittman's first New York show in three years includes breathtaking new paintings.

Barbara Gladstone Gallery, 515 W. 24th St., (212) 206-9300. Nov. 19 Dec. 23.

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