Elad Lassry @303 Gallery

JTF (just the facts): A total of 14 black and white and color photographs, displayed in custom frames and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the large, single room gallery space. The photographs are a mix of c-prints and gelatin silver prints, made in 2013; there are 9 c-prints (including 1 set of 4) and 5 gelatin silver prints on view. Physical dimensions range from 10×8 to 20×19 or reverse; all of the works are unique. Some of the works include additional 4-ply silk or foil. The show also includes 2 sculptures. (Installation shots below).

Comments/Context: For those aware of his previous work, Elad Lassry’s newest photographs will feel familiar. His recent pictures are a direct conceptual extension from his earlier ideas, leveraging his now signature closely cropped appropriated images and brightly color coordinated frames. What’s different here is the addition of a new layer of physical interruption that further obscures the underlying source images, making their meaning even harder to discern and introducing an element of sculpture into the artistic mix.

As usual, Lassry’s appropriated imagery (drawn from magazines, catalogues, textbooks and the like) has the polished look of commercial stock photography and the quirky, surreal randomness of something taken out of context. This group includes a selection bell peppers, a swimming porpoise, some flowers made of frosting, a giraffe, a selection of bridle bits, and a puffy strawberry mascot. To these isolated images, he’s added an overlay of craftiness – draping, twisting, and tying bands of colorful pleated silk directly across the pictures. The shiny silk acts like window blinds that have been left partially open; we can see a glimpse of the underlying photograph, but important information is now obscured, leaving us with only part of the message. Other works in the show use bands of foil, black spots, or encroaching areas of darkness to similarly break up the viewing experience.

While interrupting the view of a photograph isn’t exactly a new idea, Lassry’s approach is certainly novel. He has combined the odd slickness of the underlying photography with a handmade, sewing circle aesthetic, upending our expectations for how these images are supposed to function. The additions also give the works depth and surface, preventing us from looking into the photograph and pushing us back out to seeing them as three dimensional objects. When he gets it right, the dissonance is provocative; when it doesn’t quite hit, the works feel a bit precious. Either way, Lassry is continuing to push himself beyond his comfortable boundaries, trying to further unpack and deconstruct what a photograph is.

Collector’s POV: The photographic works in this show are priced as follows. The images without fabric range from $14000 to $16000, while those with fabric are $18000 each. The set of 4 prints is $42000. In the past year or two, Lassry’s work has begun to enter the secondary markets; recent prices have ranged between $7000 and $28000.

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