New York

Jonathan Lasker

Jonathan Lasker is neither an appropriator nor the latest “phenomenon” to carve out the correct mannerist niche. Instead of enlisting in today's fashionable herd, he has evolved an independent stance. More importantly he is one of the strongest young artists currently working in an abstract mode, with an admirable mastery of what at first glance appears to be a limited vocabulary of abstract marks, puzzlelike shapes, and linear webs. However, the longer one looks at his paintings—and they do reward patience—the more conscious one becomes of the range of possibilities the artist has achieved with his deliberately circumscribed approach. Rather than leading to a narrow and predictable set of results, as one might have expected, the opposite happens: composed of distinct parts, the paintings ceaselessly reinvent themselves.

Lasker is concerned with syntax. Employing his abbreviated formal vocabulary and a wide range of hot and cool colors, he develops each composition through the simple process of addition. Typically his odd puzzle pieces are contiguous with the solid field; other shapes are placed on top of this new “ground” Rather than functioning as a support for these shapes, color plays a major role. Both the choice of color and the placement of shapes undermines, alters, and comments on what has preceded it. At the same dine, the seams along which everything is locked together are not merely visible but demand to be pried apart and examined.

The shapes and linear marks in Lasker's paintings can be read as signs for both the act of painting and the act of reading a painting, and his step-by-step procedure as a means of evaluating all the possibilities. Autonomy and interaction are maintained throughout each composition with a remarkable consistency. In Lasker's case, self-consciousness has not led to parody or appropriation. At issue in his work is the ultimate nature of painting—a question that concerns us all.

John Yau