Materials he uses in his works: collage, acrylic, latex, enamel, mirrors and wood.
In 2000 Holland Cotter wrote of Michael Lazarus:
“Michael Lazarus does scary things with what might, in other hands, pass for geometric abstraction. He divides his paintings in big asymmetrical sections, which he fills with oddball colors -- mustard, pink, pea green, burgundy -- sometimes full-bodied and bright, sometimes wan and soiled.
To this foundation he adds a slender but potent arsenal of emblems. They include images of upwardly licking flames, of a kind one finds in Tibetan painting, and areas of collage. Recurring in almost every painting is a mask like oval, a cross between a smiley face and the skull on a bottle of poison.”
It seems that six plus years later his artwork is continuing along this path.
In the L.A. Now Exhibit the three works by Lazarus are entitled Embrace (2006), Reverse (2006) and Charmer’s Lair (2007)
In a 2006 article by David Pagel he describes the patterns in Lazarus’ work as evocative of Op Art.
Op Art is an art movement that was coined in a 1964 article in Time Magazine titled: Op Art: Pictures That Attack The Eye. Op Art has largely been viewed as a term used to describe ‘Sleights of Art’ where the artist uses illusions to create movement. The use of colors, value, patterns, texture, shapes and line are employed in such a way as to suggest that there exists a stationary back-ground. The eye is made to be fooled and thus an illusion of something that is not real is created. A common optical effect employed by Op is the use of light reflection or shimmer.
The Op Art’s influence on Lazarus’ work is evident in all three of his works in the LA Now exhibit. In Charmer’s Lair he also uses the Op Art reflection technique. Lazarus’ work is a mathematically-based composition relying heavily on the use of geometric shapes and organic spirals to create a sense of movement. He also creates an interesting effect using negative space. Lazarus' works include cut outs exposing, in this case, the white wall on which it is mounted. The use of negative space is not only an element of art but it is also a technique that is used specifically in the creation of Op Art.
Lazarus’ was most likely influenced by Victor Vasarely and MC Escher:
Another quote regarding Op Art:
“Scornful of the emotionalism and accident in abstract expressionism, op artists know where they stand. Precision is their pleasure. Their art instantly engages the beholder, yet does not demand his involvement or insist that he relate it to the world of objects, emotions or experiences. Op fascinates the way a kaleidoscope does a child.”
I find Lazarus’ art style interesting because he is obviously influenced by Op Art. Common to his art work is the rushed sense of imperfection. He does not clean up his paint lines or spend too much time on creating details within his art.
As David Pagel writes in his 2006 article: Into a void of inhuman beauty:
“Neither precious nor fussy, they seem to have been urgently crafted, as if he had no time to spare and getting the job done was more important than nailing every detail. The handmade imperfections provide character and pathos.”
In short the characteristics of Op Art are:
- Op Art is, almost without exception, non-representational.
- The principles of art employed (color, line and shape) are carefully chosen to achieve maximum effect.
- The critical techniques used in Op Art are perspective and juxtaposition of color
- In Op Art, space both positive and negative are of equal importance.
In ‘Charmers Lair’, Lazarus uses the technique of collage (From the French: coller, to glue) which is a form of visual arts made by ‘assemblage’ of different forms, thus creating a new whole. An artistic collage work may include newspaper/magazine clippings, bits of colored or hand-made papers, portions of other artwork, photographs, Etc., glued to a piece of paper, wood or canvas.
Techniques of collage were first used at the time of the invention of paper in China around 200 BC. The term collage however was coined in the beginning of the 20th century by both Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso (Guggenheim Museum's online art glossary) when collage became a distinctive part of modern art. According to some sources, Picasso was the first to use the collage technique in oil paintings. According to the Guggenheim Museum's online article about collage, Braque took up the concept of collage itself before Picasso, applying it to charcoal drawings. Picasso adopted collage immediately after.
Collage, according to these sources, is an artistic concept associated with the beginnings of modernism and entails much more than the idea of gluing something onto something else. The glued-on patches which Braque and Picasso added to their canvases 'collided with the surface plane of the painting'. Lazarus’ works are textured and it is obvious where the painting ends and the glueing of magazines starts. The origins of collage in terms of ‘modern art’ were part of a ''methodical reexamination of the relation between painting and sculpture'', and these new works "gave each medium some of the characteristics of the other," according to the Guggenheim essay. Although Lazarus’ works are clearly meant to be mounted on walls they have the characteristics of a three dimensional piece through the use of collage onto a wood surface. Furthermore, these cut-up bits of magazine create fragments of ‘externally referenced meaning’ into the works.