Elad Lassry doesn’t think of himself as a photographer. He says he's an artist who uses a camera. “As conservative as it might sound, I still think the distinction is crucial,” the L.A.-based Israeli photo-artist wrote to Sharon Lockhart, who was his instructor at the University of Southern California at the time, in an e-mail conversation published earlier this year.
Whether he's a photographer, artist, or both, Lassry is clearly someone to watch. At the Zoo Art Fair in London this October he won the John Jones Art on Paper Acquisition and Award, which earned him a cash prize and a mini-show at next year’s fair. And Lassry's latest work—a selection of which can be seen in the photo gallery at left—is currently on view at the L.A. gallery Cherry & Martin, which represents him, through December 15.
Like his identity as an artist, Lassry’s work can be hard to pin down. It incorporates various mediums (film, appropriated images, silkscreens, and, yes, photography) and ranges in subject matter from pristine animals to dirty young Bohemians. Some images are single-exposure C-prints; others are found images; others add silkscreen to the pot. What unites this eclectic mix is the work's startling visual clarity, impeccable formal elegance, and directness of expression.
Lassry's show at Cherry and Martin is not to be missed. When you’ve finished your visit, here are Lassry’s picks for what else you should see in L.A. this weekend:
1. In Focus: The Nude at the Getty Museum, through February 24, 2008
“A trip to the Getty can be a bit of a challenge. Between the parking and the transport to the museum, it can seem like a long way until you get to the art. But sometimes it’s worth the trip. Since its inception, photography has been the ultimate medium to study and explore the human nude. I was beginning to think this was a tired subject, but this exhibition has managed to wake me up. The Getty’s permanent collection has plenty in this genre—from Gaudenzio Marconi’s academies to John Coplans’s touching self-portraits. The show traces the fascination with the capabilities of the photographic medium and presents work that is not always what we might expect.”
2. Gordon Matta-Clark: You are the Measure at MOCA, through January 7, 2008
“A friend with an architecture background saw this show at the Whitney Museum in New York and said that he felt the museum architecture competed with the work. This doesn’t happen at MOCA. The exhibition does a fair job in describing a short career that is very influential on young artists today. Although Matta-Clark is famous for his site-specific ‘building cuts,’ his films, photographs, and notebooks are what make this show exciting.”
3. Slater Bradley: Hope from a Dark Place at Blum & Poe, through December 2
“In his second solo show, this innovative artist shows new videos, sculptures, and drawings, connecting histories and applying them to contemporary figures. At the corner of the gallery is a square piano from the 1860s, on which the artist has made scrimshaw carvings of false killer whales in the piano’s ivory keys. The work refers to the phenomenon of mass suicide among these animals, which are known to beach themselves en masse; the reason for this is unknown, though some have suggested it is paradoxically part of the species’ way of surviving. The piano is the site of a performance every Saturday: Bradley's collaborator, wearing a tuxedo designed by the artist, plays an original composition by Max Seigel.”
“I have been a fan of Jensen's work for a while and have never quite known why. Aside from their seductiveness, his paintings are confusing and layered. Something great happens to Ab Ex in his hands. I usually find work that references Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline somewhat exhausting, but in Jensen’s hands, it’s wonderful. In particular, I fell in love with his black paintings.”
"Ree Morton, whose practice was cut tragically short in 1977 when she died in a car accident, is prominent in Los Angeles this month. At Overduin and Kite, dealer Kristina Kite, who wrote her grad school thesis on Morton’s work, carefully chooses early pieces that are clever and subtly humorous. “See-Saw,” from 1974, consists of a long wooden plank balancing on a tree stump, circled by glittered blocks; it describes something between a ritualistic arena and a playground. A related exhibition, “For Ree” at Marc Foxx, showed later pieces by Morton alongside works by living artists who draw inspiration from her (including a brilliant piece by Amanda Ross Ho). Unfortunately, you just missed it."