Robert Lazzarini gun (iv), 2009 Steel and walnut 8 x 9 x 10 1/2 inches
I have always been a bit disappointed with the term “finish fetish,” but not because I dislike the genre. The term itself is merely misleading, conjuring up images of nail polish, leather whips, rubber pants, and pointy patent leather shoes. Robert Lazzarini’s work seems to understand my disappointment and aims to provide a kind of testosterone-laden indexical structure — creating sculpture that is both physical and fantastic — both a priori conditions of fetishes.
“Robert Lazzarini’s artwork springs from a desire to understand the perceivable limits of the material world. Conceptually and formally rigorous, he pushes ordinary objects to their limits by mining the twined threads of distortion and material veracity… Lazzarini negotiates a place between two and three dimensions that challenges his viewers’ understanding of the physical world and their visual perception.” – Katie Sonnenborn
Robert Lazzarini gun (v), 2009 Steel and walnut 10 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 3 inches
The works in the current exhibition feature a number of revolvers, a set of common kitchen knives and a few brass knuckles. Mounted on angled dry wall, the revolvers seem smashed and cartoonish unless viewed nearly perpendicular to the guns from a distance of approximately seven feet. That they resemble anamorphic perspectives is both a feat of the artist’s imagination and his facility with the latest in laser cutting technology. His objects are not perspectival projections, but visualized mathematical distortions fabricated out of ordinary materials that are original to the objects themselves. For example, his brass knuckles are actually made out of brass. Their twisting and shiny texture belies their deadly function and renders them useless other than as an object of meditation. The combination of these distortions with the lack of any conventionally artistic ‘material translation’ creates a hallucinatory tension in the work that is simply divine. Especially disturbing is the set of kitchen knives that appears to be flying out of the back room wall at chest level. The installation prevents the room from becoming too crowded, as a step into the sculpture might mean a severe cut to an unsuspecting patron.
Robert Lazzarini knives, 2009 Steel, wood and plastic 36 x 60 x 24 inches
Frightening and shiny, Lazzarini’s objects are as charming as they are threatening and grant him gangster status in this Jetsetter’s little black book. Which is actually a good thing, since little makes one feel as sexy as slumming in the Bronx for a little while. Okay, maybe a good Brooklyn cocktail party in Vivienne Westwood pumps does the trick. Ah, New York…I find myself reminiscing about my favorite East Coast gang-star, Guru, who died this week. I think 1994 was the year when hip-hop met acid jazz and (like Lazzarini’s sculptures) offered a trippy intersection of poetry and power. I am suspicious that Lazzarini’s work is as indebted to New York gangster culture as it is to the canon of art history. This work has much more in common with a photographically rendered album cover like 50 Cent’s “Guess Who’s Back?” than it does a Giacometti sculpture, regardless of what the press release and Jeffrey Deitch (the former director of Deitch Projects in New York where Lazzarini showed prior) say. Not that he has said anything to me (yet). But as the new godfather of MOCA Los Angeles, he is the man with the money and, as you might surmise, clearly on my mind.
Robert Lazzarini brass knuckles (i), 2010 Brass 13 x 16 x 8 inches
All hail hip-hop! I’m just sayin’…wouldn’t it be fabulous if Deitch and Lazzarini were enjoying themselves in the backroom at Honor Fraser listening to a little Gang Starr and sucking on Long Island Iced Teas, plotting to conquer the West Coast and throw a real East Coast party at MOCA Los Angeles in 2011? I suppose now I need to go ahead and RSVP for that VIP list, darlings, and I’ll be sporting my new bling-y handbag for the occasion[.]
This post was contributed by Mary Anna Pomonis