MILAN.- Promoted and produced by the City of Milan Culture, Fashion, Design and the PAC, and curated by Alessandro Rabottini, the show is the first monographic exhibition that an Italian institution has devoted to the work of Elad Lassry (b. 1977, Tel Aviv; lives and works in Los Angeles): the broadest overview ever staged of the work of the Israeli artist, which the Italian public had the chance to appreciate at the most recent Venice Biennale.
Lassrys work is characterized by a reflection on the ubiquity of the image in contemporary society and the possibility of redefining known visual codes and interpretative habits. The exhibition presents a large selection of wall works, four films, new sculptures and an installation that combines photography, sculpture and architecture, made specifically for the PAC.
While at the beginning of his career Lassry turned to photography and 16mm film as his main expressive media, his most recent production includes sculpture, architecture, drawing and performance. Most of these media are presented at the PAC as part of an exhibition path that establishes a dialogue among them: a large selection of wall works, four films, new sculptures and an installation that combines photography, sculpture and architecture, made specifically for the PAC.
In his work everything exists within a regime of horizontality, in which all hierarchies of figure, object and environment are eliminated: people, things, animals and places seem to come from a universe where spontaneity has been banished and memory is faced with a sense of imminent demise.
Lassry's pictures present seemingly familiar subjects people, animals, places and essentially commonplace objects but it is how the artist chooses to portray them that generates an ambiguous and alienating effect. The peoples poses are affected, and the animals and nature in general look entirely artificial; the objects, many of which arranged in compositions that evoke advertising photography, do not seem to pertain to the functional domain, yet it is unclear if they have symbolic meaning.
Indeed, between the image and its frame Lassry establishes chromatic correspondences that reinforce the oscillation between two and threedimensionality, transforming the image itself into an object resembling a sculpture, whereas the absence of natural light produces a chromatic intensity that heightens the tactile quality of the images.
Lassry's visual universe is wordless: not only his silent films, but, more generally, the formal perfection of his images and their elaborate construction momentarily suspend the possibility that an image can mean or relay something. More than the space of narration, Lassrys images are a surface on which seduction and repulsion, ambiguity and alienation, are reflected.
In his 16mm films, of which the Milan exhibition is presenting a selection of four works produced between 2007 and 2010, movement exists only as an attentive choreography, whereas once more a visual osmosis is established between figure and environment, bringing everything back to an optical and perceptual existence.
Most of Lassrys works consist of a reflection on the very act of seeing, on the construction of representation and how we ourselves look at images, projecting onto them extraneous meanings that come from our own autobiographical and cultural experience. For Lassry, the act of framing is not merely a formal device in the artists hands, but it is above all an interpretative device that appeals to the spectators position: this is why his pictures are not accompanied by a precise explanation, nor is their origin clarified in any way.
Spatial works that reinforce the discussion on vision as a form of construction in both the production and interpretation of the images also are on display.
In his artistic practice, Lassry takes the premises that are part of a nowhistoricized series of experiences and brings them to a new synthesis: from the fusion present between the optical and tactile qualities of the photographs of László MoholyNagy to the conceptual nature of the image that runs through the work of artists such as Richard Prince, Louise Lawler and Sharon Lockhart, going through the conflict between hyperrealism and fiction that characterizes some of the forms of Robert Gober and Richard Artschwager.
Solo shows of Elad Lassrys works have been staged at prestigious international institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Kunsthalle in Zurich and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Lassry also participated in the most recent Venice Biennale as well as collective shows at MoMa and the New Museum in New York, the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, the CAPC in Bordeaux, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Turin GAM.