This summer, Elad Lassry's photographs and an enchanting video work were shown at ILLUMInations in Venice, giving the Los Angeles based artist a wider European audience. His first solo show in London opened last week at the White Cube in Hoxton.
Are they photographs, framed objects, or is it actually about the frames themselves? This question springs to mind upon entering the exhibition of Elad Lassry (1977, Tel Aviv, works in Los Angeles), which is currently on view at the White Cube Gallery (Hoxton Square), London. Consisting of three sculptures and 17, well, let's call them photographs, Elad Lassry has created a small yet mesmerising world that is at once charming and confusing.
Lassry presents his photographs in rather small and deep frames, giving his work a very tactile appearance. His work explores the contrasts between different materials and colours: pimpled pumpkins lean against smooth plexiglas, a furry, grey cat is portrayed against a bright green background.
A sculpture consisting of two small wooden panels, resembling tiny doors, are placed next to openings of the exact same size and shape in the wall. They suggest a fairytale-like passage way inviting you to view the subsequent part of the exhibition. The dark and natural grain of the wooden panels is indented with shiny shapes, again establishing a contrast between the materials’ properties.
And there is humour too. One of Lassry's photographs shows three young, blond, fashion-magazine-handsome guys posing together, wearing identical black shirts. They confidently look into the camera, completely unaware of the tackiness in which Lassry has portrayed them: against an empty background and surrounded by a shiny frame.
However, Lassry's sense of humour is mostly one of subtle silliness. One of his sculptures consists of a massive wooden beam with eight egg-shaped pieces of lighter wood nested into it. Only if you look closer will you see that one egg's top is pointed towards the viewer, as if it is jokingly sticking out its tongue.
Saying Lassry combines media, would be a mistake. His approach makes the issue of medium-specificity suddenly seem irrelevant. Rather, his work raises far more interesting questions: what is worth framing? What is at the centre of a work, and what is periphery?
One portrait shows a topless woman against a background of buttons, like those you buy from the haberdasher's shop. She smiles cheerfully, wearing only a necklace with beads of wood and stone. As with all of Lassry's works, the image is framed in colour. In this case it’s that 1970s mixture between brown and orange that also appears in the button background, the necklace and the woman's skin colour. What deserves our attention, Lassry seems to ask. Is it the beads around the woman's neck? What looks like precious stones might as well be plastic. Or is the shiny frame perhaps really the focal point?
Lassry's subjects are very playful. Yet, he still manages to devote equal attention to his portraits as he does to something as banal as plastic cutlery. This undiscerning approach to his subjects leaves no doubt about Lassry's precision, calculated composition and sharp eye for presentation. Elad Lassry's exhibition looks as if the most quirky second-hand furniture shop on Earth has hired a rigorously minimalist stylist to put together a showroom for people who like kitsch, but don't want to admit it. An extremely talented stylist, that is.
23 September — 12 November 2011
White Cube, Hoxton Square