L.A. Habitat is a weekly series of visits with 16 artists in their workspaces around the city.
This week’s studio: Elad Lassry; Hollywood, Los Angeles. Elad Lassry arrived at CalArts in 1998, sandwiched between two exchange students in the back of a Nissan. The school, located deep in the San Fernando Valley, would become the Tel Aviv native’s first home in the United States. “I just remember thinking how different the landscape was from what I imagined,” he told me at his studio last December. Almost 20 years later, Lassry has become well known for his richly colorful photography, which often captures seemingly mundane household objects or studio portraits. His work, executed with technical precision, is typically of modest size and can be eerily evocative of stock photography.
Lassry didn’t always know he wanted to be an artist, thought he did receive his first camera, a 35mm Olympus point-and-shoot, in high school. (These days, he prefers to use a Sinar 4×5.) “I finished high school in Israel, studying science. Art was always something I did on the side,” he said, “I first decided I wanted to make art full-time after high school.” Lassry recalled his pre-Internet days, when he first learned about Californian artists such as John Baldessari at his local library in Tel Aviv. Since his original move to Los Angeles in 1998, Lassry has spent a few stretches of time away from the West Coast, but now calls the city his permanent home.
Situated on an unassuming residential block north of Melrose Avenue, Lassry’s studio in Hollywood occupies a well-lit apartment that he’s inhabited since 2011. Dog beds sit next to the front door, providing spaces for his beloved poodles to crash on while he works. The walls are sparsely decorated, but his work table is cluttered with countless black and white source images. His work schedule, he says, tends to be pretty consistent during the week. “I’m definitely more of a morning person, though this has changed a bit since I’ve become a parent.” I asked Lassry what he does for fun in Los Angeles. “My work is a lot of fun for me. I also enjoy hiking, hanging out with my kids and my dogs,” he said. He told me that, despite the recent influx of museums and galleries in Los Angeles, he’s not very social, “in the sense of openings and things like that.”
At the time of our interview, Lassry’s work was featured in the Guggenheim’s “Photo-Poetics: An Anthology.” Next month, an exhibition curated by Lassry, Walaed Beshty, Zanele Muholi, and Collier Schorr called “Systematically Open?: New Forms for Contemporary Image Production” will open at the LUMA Foundation in Arles, and in 2017, Lassry’s work will go on view in a solo exhibition curated by Jeff Wall in Vancouver.