Enigmatological Paintings of Jonathan Lasker
The first time I saw paintings of Jonathan Lasker was not that long ago. Looking at his work for years, I realized that finding meaning in the contemporary world is possible. If you are a painter, you must paint and believe. If you are a viewer, you must look and believe.
Lasker does not exclude. These paintings are everything. They are like extraterrestrial refrigerators - intelligent and with every type of food in one place. They are landscapes, still lives, and interiors. They do not project any identity, point of view, or any other nonsense that contemporary painting does. They only question and suggest. And it’s up to you how you take these questions along with suggestions and construct, first, the picture, then the meaning.
Quietly mesmerizing and mysterious, Lasker’s paintings hover between many things. They are highly contemplative like Giorgio Morandi’s paintings. Though Lasker’s and Morandi’s vocabularies are different, there are lots of ideas that intersect. For instance, how the imagined follows the concrete, or how inanimated elements animate on the plane in the work of both painters.
So a priori, the paintings of Lasker are not abstract. They are very much conceptual. Lasker just uses abstract vocabulary to compose the familiar and real. Lasker gets to his concepts through an abstract language. In his own words, “conception follows perception.” You assemble the picture out of the elements you see. And it doesn’t have to be the dry language of painting that was forced upon us by the need to get tenure in the American painting club. You do not need an actual figure in order to present one, you don’t need the old tables of crockery and flat champagne to construct a still-life picture, and you don’t need splashes of paint all over to compose a space or provide a highly emotional state.
These paintings are full of hope. The hope to find meaning in the contemporary world where everything became not clearly formulated, everything became like a glitch. Lasker steps in as an enigmatologist to solve the puzzle and its nature. He studies the contemporary moment - the puzzle itself, and how we can find the reality in it. It is not hopeless according to Lasker, it is just a question of belief. If you do believe, your attempt to get at a sense of what could possibly be constructed as reality will be successful. His paintings ask to sustain the uncertainty and doubt. Those who dare to ask questions about reality and perception will find what is real eventually. Look at the paintings of Lasker and believe. Look at the world and believe. Just try. It works.
Jonathan Lasker, Time Without History, Oil on linen, 2005
Giorgio Morandi, Natura Morta, Oil on canvas, 1939
Jonathan Lasker, Separation of Experience, Oil on linen, 2013