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Indepth Arts News:

"VantagePoint V: Robert Lazzarini"
2006-02-26 until 2006-05-16
Mint Museum of Art
Charlotte, NC, USA United States of America

Remaking familiar objects and manipulating their forms in seemingly impossible ways, New York sculptor Robert Lazzarini leaves you questioning what is real and what isn’t. “Lazzarini makes some of the strangest, most mind-altering objects you will ever see,” wrote Washington Post staff writer Blake Gopnik in a 2003 art review. “This contemporary artist seems to actually bend the fabric of the world, so that even our perceptions of it start to crack.” For this fifth installment of the VantagePoint* series at the Mint Museum of Art, Curator of Contemporary Art Carla Hanzal identified Robert Lazzarini for a solo exhibition. In 2004, Lazzarini was featured in the Revelation: A Fresh Look at Contemporary Collections exhibition organized by Hanzal at the Mint Museum of Art.

The interest generated by three of Lazzarini’s sculptures inspired this subsequent show presenting a larger, more comprehensive survey of the artist’s work.

Lazzarini’s sculptures investigate hyperrealism, but his use of a skewed perspective, “elongating” an object through planar distortion, offers a new interpretation of familiar objects such as a violin, a chair or a hammer. Fabricated with amazing veracity, yet extremely distorted, these ubiquitous objects appear to be pulled by some strange effect of gravity. Modeled on actual objects found in the artist’s studio or the urban landscape, the sculptures are fabricated from actual wood, metal, plastic and bone, and are finished so that they bear the imprint of use.

VantagePoint V will feature 10 of Lazzarini’s sculptures. The earliest piece in the exhibition, violin, is based on a rare 1693 Stradivarius, representing the technical perfection of a hand-built instrument. Lazzarini’s tour-de-force sculpture of a 1980s-era Bell Atlantic public telephone, entitled payphone, was first presented at the Whitney Museum of Art. A series of skulls also reveals Lazzarini’s interest in vanitas, the 17th century still life tradition of painting objects such as skulls, clocks and flowers that convey an acute sense of life’s fleeting nature. Another series of sculptures references the artist’s studio, a place of toil and intense mental and psychological concentration. The most recent sculpture in the exhibition, table, notebook and pencil, is one of several sculptures from Lazzarini’s studio series.

Lazzarini’s approach to object-making is unique in that he combines traditional processes with advanced technology to create sculptures that are at once haunting and iconic. Beginning with a digital scan of the object, he manipulates and distorts the image by using computer-assisted design and animation programs. Lazzarini exhausts many possibilities in determining how the sculpture will exist as an image as well as a tangible object. Once he decides upon the configuration, he then translates the two-dimensional design into the virtual geometry of the object. He creates a three-dimensional model of the sculpture using rapid prototyping, a method of computer-generated model-making.

These models serve as the basis for the final sculptures which Lazzarini fabricates. The construction process can involve collaborating with as many as 45 different fabricators, as was the case in creating payphone. Lazzarini then oversees the assembly of the separate parts and painstakingly finishes the sculpture by hand, so that the intense industrial process is balanced with a handmade aspect. The resulting objects are a combination of objectivity and subjectivity, evoking a strange sensation as the viewer tries to rectify their unsettling distortions, defying the world of physical objects as we know it.

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