BOMB revisits the work of Jonathan Lasker. Here the artist discusses his early works with Amanda Valdez.
Jonathan Lasker: Early Works at Cheim & Read highlighted the early output of this New York-based abstract painter’s career. Though the artist was born in New Jersey, the show started off with the last painting he made while at CalArts. Now known for squiggly black lines, thick impasto paint, and bright bold colors, the early paintings show the beginning of issues he would continue to mine in painting for the next thirty years. Moving between rooms there was a clear progression in his handling of paint, the sometimes awkward and challenging color choices, and the development of images and their relationship to one another. Some have the clarity and borders of brushstrokes in later works while most others lack the restraints he went on to develop. The washy backgrounds of paintings like the 1981 Pre-Fab View and Zen for Ben with the Richter-like painted forms that sit right on top, make for a completely new experience of Lasker’s work. Lasker took time in the studio recently to discuss these early works.
Amanda Valdez What does it mean for you to have this exhibition up of your earlier works? Do you regularly have these works around you in the studio or at home?
Jonathan Lasker In a way, I have never gotten completely away from the early works. I’ve written about one of the paintings, Illinois. It was the beginning of the whole figure/ground dialectic in my work. I’ve said in the past that, in a way, I’m still painting that painting with each successive painting. Namely, the foundation of what that started is still in my mind. Although, of course, the paintings that I’m doing today look radically different than the paintings from the late ’70s.
New York artist Liz Magic Laser discusses her performance pieces—and their unusual settings, conceptions, and influences—with Amanda Valdez.
Liz Magic Laser has staged her work in bank ATM vestibules, on a staircase in Times Square and, for her Performa 11 commission, in a movie theatre. Equal in range is her cast of collaborators: dancers, actors, cinematographers, surgeons, and a motorcycle gang. Though she started out as a photographer, over time her art practice has become predominately performance-based. In the 2010 Greater New York show at PS1 she exhibited Mine, an installation of her ransacked purse in a vitrine, accompanied by a video projection of a set of hands using surgical tools to pull apart the purse and its contents. Another piece, chase, is an epic adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play Man Equals Man. Every line creates a new frame in the film from a different location in which the actors delivered their lines to ATM machines, other patrons, and within the general contained space of bank locations. I Feel Your Pain, a feature length film created while the audience watches the performance take place in the same space recently premiered at Performa 11. In the work, the American political scene is set up as a romantic drama as seen through the lens of Russian agitprop theatre techniques. I spoke with the artist before the premier.
Amanda Valdez In your last several projects there’s a clear shift into theatre. chase was developed from Bertolt Brecht’s play Man Equals Man, Flight combines live acting with mashed up film scenes, and your latest piece is invested in theatre practices. How did this develop?