Elad Lassry at White Cube Hoxton

Filed in Reviews by on September 24, 2011

Elad Lassry

White Cube, Hoxton

23 September to 12 November 2011


This is the first solo exhibition of Elad Lassry’s work in the UK. Lassry was born in Tel Aviv but studied in and now lives in Southern California. He was recently nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

The uniformly small scale of Lassry’s images in this exhibition means that the gallery’s space is not exactly crowded with interest. Do not expect to be overwhelmed (not that that is necessarily always a bad thing). In fact, the images are small and detailed enough to make it virtually impossible to take them in properly without one’s nose virtually touching the glass.
My initial thought was to wonder what it is about these, at least at first sight, rather unremarkable images that is supposed to be of such interest that they are hanging in this space. They brought back to me memories of popular culture phenomena like The Osmonds and The Partridge Family, synthetic and saccharine visions of normality which deep down we know cannot possibly be truly normal. The images seemed to fall into a number of apparently unrelated but consistently dysfunctional categories, among them portraits that even at first glance somehow looked, and more strangely, felt wrong and oddly clumsy still life compositions of frequently rather tacky objects. I readily identified their Koonsian banality but without ever having the sense that it was likely to lead anywhere. When one looks closely at the images and sees the deliberate blurring, double exposures, indeed all the little details that explain away the viewer’s initial discomfort, one feels that one has been the victim of a kind of modified trompe l’oeil . The images could be described kindly as colourful, but perhaps more accurately as gaudy and ugly, and, idiosyncratically, the frames are often painted to take on the dominant colour of the image itself. Perhaps this is intended to enable the images to reach out of their frames and into the three dimensions of the gallery space. If so, the effort is noted but the effect is unfortunately not so marked.

I don’t think that it can be denied that Lassry’s work is successful to a degree in making the viewer explore and interrogate the interstices between reality and unreality, between perfection and flaw, and between normality and abnormality. Whether this questioning is profound in nature or leads to some greatly enhanced understanding of anything at all is less certain to me. I cannot honestly say that I liked the work in this exhibition (and in one sense I am fairly sure I was not meant to) or that it moved or even especially interested me. I think I get what Lassry is driving at, and while his work has certainly gained a lot of attention – in addition to this show at the White Cube, he has been shown at MOMA and the Zurich Kunsthalle – this exhibition just doesn’t seem that significant or convincing to me.

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John Kavanagh

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John Francis Kavanagh is the founder and editor of Artists Insight.

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