Robert Lazzarini was born in 1965 in New Jersey. Graduating in 1990 from the School of Visual Arts, he still lives and works in New York City, NY. We sat down with him for a conversation.
Hi Robert, how are you today?
Good, thank you.
Did you always wanna be an artist?
Yes, ever since I can remember. My immediate family was in the sciences but they were always very supportive of my artistic pusuits. My Mom's dad was an artist and a teacher, so we had a special connection. He could paint like a son of a bitch, but only made a handful of paintings.
In a nutshell, how did you get where you are today?
I went to artschool. I worked for some artists. I started exhibiting my own work. I got a gallery. My work started to sell.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Mostly, I am in the studio all day. I meet in the morning with my studio manager and we discuss current and upcomimg projects. Some days I have visitors or meetings in the studio. The day usually involves some sort of material, engineering, or financial problem solving. Then I'm either designing works or physically making them. If a deadline doesn't keep me at the studio late, I go home to my amazing wife and daughter.
What is the most dominant feeling you are expressing with your art?
Vulnerability. By creating works that displace information, it requires the viewer's body to navigate the sculptures and paintings in order to understand them better. The works are designed to confound our habitual processes of visual recognition and in so reveal the limitations of vision.
What is the relationship between your paintings and your sculptures?
I only started to make painting a part of my practice recently. I think partly it was a way to step outside of object making. The image / object relationship has been in my work since the beginning so it kinda made sense. The paintings have developed to emphasize opticality, something that parallels the phenomenologic aspect of the objects that I make.
Can you tell me about the inspiration for your most recent work.
The last couple of exhibits that I did all focused on the actress Sharon Tate who was murdered by the Manson Family. I was both interested in the clash between counter-culture and the Hollywood elite and in the larger narrative as a quintessential American story. I was also interested in Sharon as a tragic figure. The recent paintings present a conflict between image and pattern and propose her disappearance from our collective memory.
How does living in NYC influence you as an artist?
I grew up near the city and came in often to visit family. Those happened to be the years with the highest murder rates and violence. It's definitely shaped my world view. Today NYC can be a grind. Everyone's hustling. You really have to stay on your game in order to remain relevant. At the same time, you have unprecedented access to an incredible amount of activity within visual culture.
What do you love most about your job?
The creative process; conceptualizing work, designing it, problem solving it, then producing it. I know that as far as jobs go, being a professional artist is a huge privilege but it comes with unique challenges. You're not only facing the world at large, you're also facing yourself.
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Interview & Words