Inside Laurina Paperina's 'mad world'

 "Care to superhero-size your googly-eyed, drippy multi-patty mondo burger with a side of Spider-Man, Nirvana and Mr. T? Count Italian artist Laurina Paperina as definitely down for that delightfully bad-taste pop-art mashup.

"I draw what I see, what I feel ... and what I eat," she e-mails on a break from installing her current Fouladi Projects exhibit, "Bad Smell." "I get inspiration from music and 'trash television,' from video games, comics and quotes from movies, sometimes from real life and other times not."


Her approach mixes punk irreverence, pop-culture iconography and millennial/pre-apocalyptic preoccupations in a blender, filters the lot through a dark, personal prism and delivers it with a comic-book splat on paper, in animation, as part of an installation or in the form of figurines.

It's a world populated by enraged and electrified kitties, slashers in search of Smurf victims, flatulent marmots and the many decapitated noggins of cute cartoon characters.

Finding meaning in the seemingly random pop vortex, she plucks out characters and icons like Spock or the Sex Pistols' queen-bedecked Union Jack and gives them a strange or sick kick that boots them into her own continuing narrative.

"I think that the people should see my pieces all together to understand my work," the artist says. "They are like a puzzle."

"Bad Smell's" installation, video animations, drawings, paintings and neon work draw mostly from her consumption - pop or otherwise - from the past year.

"There are a lot of different characters as junk food, mutant animals or celebrity and famous artists," she says. "All these characters are represented in an ironic and funny way, because it is a joke about our mad world."

What lies behind the madness? The Rovereto, Italy, native seems intent on hiding behind the fantasy realm she's created, asserting on her website that "She now lives in Duckland, a small town in the universe. She doesn't want to make serious art!" while her "How to Kill the Artists" series puts Basquiat, Dali and others in her gross-out, gorehound sights.

Yet when pressed these days, Paperina is a bit more forthcoming.

"Behind all those bizarre and colorful creatures hides my view of life and death," explains the artist, who adds that she adores street culture, comic books and graffiti art. "So what could I say to represent this exhibition? 'Hell, yeah!' of course."

Through Oct. 27. Noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Fouladi Projects, 1803 Market St., S.F. (415) 621-2535.


Pop art pioneer Lichtenstein in Tate Modern retrospective

LONDON (Reuters) - The first major retrospective show of American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein's work is to go on show for the first time in 20 years at a gallery in London next year.

The Tate Modern is to host the most comprehensive collection of the artist's work aiming to demonstrate the importance of Lichtenstein's influence, his engagement with art history and his enduring legacy as an artist.

Famed for his use of Ben-Day dots, bold lines and anguished heroines portrayed in his earlier works, Lichtenstein, whose first exhibition in 1968 was panned by art critics, pioneered a new style of painting inspired by industrial print processes but executed by hand.

Curator Sheena Wagstaff, who spent four years working on the exhibition, said she looked at 5,000 pieces of Lichtenstein's work before whittling it down to the key 125 pieces that will go on show.

"He is a quintessential pop artist but there's a whole lot of other work that you don't know about that is just as important," Wagstaff told reporters.

The show will feature influential paintings such as "Drowning Girl" from the Museum of Modern Art in New York and "Look Mickey", on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington as well as the Tate's own "Wham!" piece.

"The highlights of the show, I think will be for many people, revisiting old friends like the romance and war series with these sort of great anguished heroines and this virile air force pilots," Wagstaff told Reuters.

There are 125 works from private and public collections from around the world, comprising paintings, sculptures and drawings.

There will be other highlights of the show that will surprise visitors, Wagstaff added, such as a series of large nudes or the sublime Chinese landscapes Lichtenstein painted in the final years of his life.

The exhibition which is a collaboration between the Art Institute in Chicago, where it is currently being shown before moving to The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and London's Tate Modern.

The show, entitled "Lichtenstein: A Retrospective", runs from February 21 to May 27.

"He is this creature of really absorbing ambiguity and it's been a wonderful journey, for us curators to readdress the significance of Lichtenstein," Wagstaff added.

"You recognize a Lichtenstein, whatever style he is emulating."