By Kathryn Helmore
VANCOUVER – Elad Lassry, His artwork is like a bottle of lukewarm water on a hot, dry day. It’s like the first two seconds of your favorite song, turned off before the rhythm begins. In other words, the works of this Los Angeles-based artist can be uncomfortable and frustrating. But this is not an insult. In fact, Lassry specializes in making his audience feel dissatisfied, thirsty, and subtly unsettled.
“Lassry has been called ‘a new kind of conceptual photographer,’” says Mandy Ginson, a curatorial assistant at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where Tel Aviv-born Lassry’s first major exhibition in North America is being shown. “He is among a generation of artists whose work is concerned with how pictures communicate and how we perceive different kinds of images.”
Over the last decade, Lassry has produced an extensive body of work in mediums including photograph, film, and sculpture. Yet to categorize Lassry is tricky. He isn’t a photographer, a filmmaker, or a master of sculpture. His small pieces, generally 8 by 11 inches, are carefully staged photographs of average things, from people to animals to household objects, such as nail polish. He also frequently alters photos sourced from magazines and archives.
“Lassry very purposefully uses types of images that are simple and familiar, images that might resemble fashion photography or product shots for example,” says Ginson. “He makes subtle changes, so that they become strange and prompt us to go back, look again, and maybe engage with the image in a different way.”
“Untitled (Green)” embodies Lassry’s unique approach to photography. The photograph is simple: a woman sitting against a plain, green backdrop. Based on her posture and her crocheted dress, she looks like a vintage pin up girl. Who the woman really is, we’ll never know — the core components of identification, her body and face, are blocked by a single vertical strip of foil.
“What I like about ‘Untitled (Green)’ is how the gesture is so simple,” says Ginson. “The single line drawn though the middle of the image makes the piece and our experience of viewing it compellingly strange and complex.”
A survey of Elad Lassry’s work runs at the Vancouver Art Gallery until October 1.Elad Lassry, VAG, Vancouver Art Gallery