The work of Jonathan Lasker (Jersey City, United States, 1948) was displayed in 1996 as part of the group exhibition Nuevas Abstracciones held at the Palacio de Velázquez in the Parque del Retiro. This same area has been chosen again for, on this occasion, a comprehensive exhibition of his drawings, studies and paintings made between 1977 and 2003.
During the Seventies Lasker's paintings alluded to elements that the artist found around him: beds, tables, televisions and other items with which he maintained a dialogue by contributions of pop art to the art scene. Artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist and Roy Lichtenstein were part of his horizon and largely still present in the rest of his production until this very day. However, from the Eighties Lasker begins to develop a set of personal brands and gestures without clear references. Far from the narrative, the North American creates his own language and articulates a conceptual approach based on preliminary studies. These are an intermediate step in the realisation of his paintings and facilitate the flow of subconscious spontaneity -the same one the Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists put into effect.
Lasker’s studies are small and articulated pieces where he attempts a certain idea. Once the idea is fixed in one or more previous papers, he moves on to executing it on a large scale. In the process the relationship between the pictorial elements can change: the size or spatial location of some of them, but the initial idea stays the same. The artist can add but not subtract. As a result, the final work is a version of his earlier studies where Lasker has staked his intuitive ability to reach the final forms. The artist wants to overcome the randomness of abstract expressionism, a trend he considers exhausted.
This exhibition is a collection of seventeen drawings, mostly untitled, and nineteen studies that are from the thirty-nine paintings on display, they include: Cultural Promiscuity (1986), The Realm of the Quaint (1988), Ode To A Mutt (1989), Public Love (1990), Nearly Soul (1996), Desirable Stasis (1998) and Natural Culture (2001); all of which are displayed with their studies. For Lasker there are three pillars on which production is developed: figure, background and line. These are the three elements that the artist uses in his deconstruction process of artistic traditions and languages.
The more geometric strokes, direct reminiscences of Piet Mondrian grids, coexist in his canvases together with gestural brushstrokes. Monochromatic backgrounds are common as are scribbles and markings. The compact frames, which overlap at the bottom, are often put in dialogue with a top layer of thick paint. The tour of Lasker's work through this retrospective exhibition provides an insight into the functioning of the structures and organisation of the groups of forms that develop during the process of its production. Both the systematic methodology and the foundations review of abstract expressionism make Lasker one of the painters of reference when dealing with conceptual abstraction.
K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Dusseldorf (September 20 - November 23, 2003)
Reina Sofia Museum's Publications