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Jonathan Lasker: The 80s - until 23 December

  • If you can make it to this exhibition before it closes you must. This is an absolutely unmissable show, I'd been waiting years, literally, to see some of these beasts in the flesh - and like all great art shows, or gigs, it wasn't what I expected, but I certainly wasn't disappointed.


    When I went in the gallery I was hit instantly by the great picture at the back, When Dreams Work, a crazy flowing majestic but messy, green vibrating painting. All that classic Lasker weirdness, tempered with a sort of escpaing classical beauty. It's strange, you want to call these paintings abstract, but it doesn't seem quite the right phrase, they have a peculiar human quality, or sense of objects in them - or it could be a sense of space - no, there aren't any identifiable things in the paintings, but they still don't seem absract.



     When Dreams Work, oil on canvas 1992



    What I didn't expect next was how unattractive I would actually find some of the paintings. The paint has been smeared on in a nasty way and there's this retro feel of nasty old colours, like you would find on a 70s sofa that had been thrown away into a dump. There's something almost repellant about the colours and the brushwork in paintings like Idiot Savant - it really seems smeared on with the nastiest colours that Lasker could find.


     Idiot Savant, oil on canvas, 1983


    Now this may have been exactly what Lasker was looking  for - he did a whole series of paintings that you would find in Amercian Motels - sort of boring, unmemorable pictures churned out. This give me the idea that Lasker does not necessarily want to please you with what you see, but he does most definitely want to challenge you with these pictures. Not only are they sometimes nasty, they are also huge, leaning off the wall dominating you, and then behind this nastiness is dazzling almost op art wiggling lines and shapes shimmering in front of you. The repellant feel and the dizzying optical effects makes for stunning viewing, it's almost as if he made the pictures as nasty as possible to counteract the beauty of the optical effects.



    For a bit I felt frustrated as I looked - why couldn't he have just let this optical effect burst forth - I think there are definitely hints and references to Patrick Heron in these pictures, but this again is smothered with the unappealing quality of sections of the work. I felt for a bit as if Lasker was holding back, he was afraid to let these pictures burst into fire.


    Then I noticed something really classy in When Dreams Work. The three black scribbles, that look a bit like bales of hay all move forwards, just like they would do in perspective. The 'bales of hay' and the perspective they create is then counteracted by the shimmering optical lines that run back and forth across the painting and set up another sense of space and perspective - this is then counteracted again by the thick lines of paint that are encrusted on the top of the pciture - the viseral feel of these lines doesn't let you forget than despite the space in the picture it is actually flat. Absolute genius, playing and referring and breaking up the conundrum of 3D images on a 2D space, a brilliant way of discussing the space in paintings, touching on the dialogues that Cezanne set up.


    After seeing this the paintings begain to mesmerize me more and more, and as it became dark outside the paintings began to vibrate more and the diffrerent sections to float and spark in the air. A stunning exhibiiton, not to be missed. Catch it at the Timothy Taylor Gallery, 15 Carlos Place, London, W1K 2EX - but hurry it's only in until 23 December 2012.