Notes/ Dialogs
published 2024 April 12

Finally in  Bucharest, paintings from five decades. a Jonathan Lasker exhibition at the Museum of Recent Art

 by Genu Berlo
I am truly thankful to Jonathan Lasker for his willingness and effort to present his art in Bucharest on February 20th this year.  And this is not only because I find his work informative and relevant to my painting practice, -I first saw his show at Cheim&Read in NYC back in 2007 I think, but because this is a great opportunity for Romanian art to better articulate itself to the international discourse, and especially to the modernist values.

It is hard to grasp the full entanglement of the American art defined by streams of philosophical thought and social ideas that over the past decades defined moments and even currents in art.  But what is not so clear to a Romanian audience is that context is holding things together, and can only be understood when artists are moving ideas and feelings from one place to another.  You could see the scantiness of awareness by the questions that were addressed to mister Lasker during the tour of the exhibition; things like the opacity and lack of transparency or perspective as a general trait in the modern American art where asked, and although he gently tried to answer, I felt the incongruence of thought, inadequacy and confusion created. Even himself gave up on responding to some, as he couldn't understand the question.
So this exhibition really stands as a breakthrough in a dialog between Romanian and American art today, and in establishing a better vocabulary for ground ideas, like material painting for instance, or painting as more than just an optical tool.  In his case, it is practically a new employ of painting, by using the contrast between flat and thick chunks of paint in abstract measured gestures, figures and shapes, as Jonathan is saying in a press release himself, and it is obvious indeed. You are immediately becoming a viewer, commanded by both the unique abstract language he is defining, and the distinctive apply of paint.  Of course it is more than that, it equally has to do with the engagement in seeking of his own truths, own measures of desires and traits of personality, limitations, etc... His meditations about substance and time, materiality and subjectivity, human and nature conditions, are deeply in relation with his process, painting and final canvas.  
He is an engineer in the way he meticulously plans and transfer his images, a very clear and chronological process, and a painter in the way he’s creating the images, a very imaginary approach.  And although the first feeling might sound pop and funky, it has a second taste of alienation, due to the very constructed gesture, objectified action painting dimension. So his art is in dialog with the history, you can feel the abstract expressionism and how he evolves from that, but remains relevant to himself building by his own language and methods.

Although looking at his painting captivates your attention and makes you a viewer again, there is also a sense of the contemporary condition in it, of remote and separated presence, or maybe the lighter feeling of content, of things settling in their own place.

Looking forward to more dialogs like this, I can only hope that we can consider more attention for double vision artists, and mature to the point of being able to discuss and contribute to the matter of art.