May 1st marks the opening of BEST OF SHOW at the Marcia Evans Gallery in Columbus Ohio. The show features digital prints by artists Robert Lazuka.
The following is the first of a three part series of questions and answers relating to Bob's life as an artist.
Question: When did you first realize that you were an artist?
Bob: I discovered that I loved to draw when I was 6 or 7. I first drew cartoon characters, then dinosaurs, then cars and planes. In my early teens I started drawing women. But I only had one art class in high school, so I didn't really know if I was good enough to be an artist until I was in college.
Question: Are there other members of your family who are artists?
Bob: No. My older sister did a lot "artsy" things in high school, but she never pursued it.
Question: Has printmaking always been your preferred medium?
Bob: I began as a painter and became an accomplished realist. I did a lot of photography for years. In fact, I still use photography in much of my work. But I did not find my "artistic voice" until I was introduced to printmaking. In color printmaking, one must separate the colors onto separate printing plates, and then bring the partial images together to create the composite whole. The abstracted images that result from these separations opened my eyes and mind to many new possibilities for composition and expression. I like working toward something that is somewhat unknown - the drama, the build up, and the ultimate "surprise" that forms the resulting image.
Question: Much of your current work references landscapes. What is the importance of landscape imagery for you?
Bob: My aim is to place my audience into a moment - an instant in which something is happening or about to happen. I am fascinated with the moments in which we make choices, or when something unexpected occurs, which causes us to make a decision. These moments take place in the space around us, and inside of us. The landscape functions as the stage where the drama takes place. My landscapes do not define a specific place, but rather project the mood through color, light and texture.
On a more personal level, I have a great love for the landscape. I worked as a landscaper and landscape designer for three years. It's the best job I ever had. I could draw up a plan, show it to the potential client and discuss some options, then execute the plan and see it all come together in a few hours or a few days "out in the real world." Great stuff! I still enjoy doing some landscaping and gardening at home. In spite of all the comforts we enjoy in this technologically advanced world, I think Mother Earth is still our healer, our spiritual center, and our home. We can find what we need out there - on the earth, on the planet. There are mysteries, and wonders, and amazingly beautiful things out there, and just as many wonders in here - in our heads and in our hearts.
Question: Your current work utilizes digitally manipulated photographs. How do you think your process influences the outcome of your work?
Bob: We have extraordinary relationships with our technological instruments, and the camera is one of the most fascinating. Think about what Leonardo would have done if he had a camera! The camera allows us to see ourselves differently, and to see the world differently. We can speed up the shutter speed to stop the action. or slow it down to suggest movement. We can change the light, or the perspective, or add a filter, or make a hundred other adjustments.
In my current work, the camera allows me to establish a setting that appears to be real, or at least possible. My goal is to create a sense of wonder, curiosity, or mystery. If I created the same images with paint on canvas, they would not grab you or hold your interest. It is significant that the image appears to have been "captured" by a camera. New technologies allow me to create this seamless illusion that acts as a window to this imaginary (or is it?) world. It acts like a piece of evidence that verifies that something happened, or something exists. I think the viewer looks at the images and wonders what they are looking at. They wonder what it is a picture of. They accept the way a camera can document events. That acceptance allows me to present my "fantastic" scenes as if one is peeking into another reality.
To be continued....