Exhibitions > >

The Back Room

May 3 - Jun 18, 2017

Sidney Lazarus (1912-1973)

Bach's Chaconne, 1951

Ink on cream card

6 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (17.1 x 24.1 cm.)

Sidney Lazarus
Whenever [Sidney] finished a picture, he told me he would recite a prayer: ‘May God preserve me from having to produce more pictures.’ He would invariably be surprised and excited to discover himself doing yet another one . . . .
—Douglas Lazarus (son)

Shin Gallery is pleased to present “The Back Room,” an exhibition of works by Sidney Lazarus (1912-1973), on view from May 3 - June 18, at 66 Orchard St.

American art dealer, Julian Levy, opened his eponymous New York gallery in 1931, which showcased some of the most innovative art of its time. Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, and Man Ray held exhibitions there. In the midst of such celebrated company was Sidney Lazarus, who had his first show with Levy at age twenty. Though his works were exhibited alongside Picasso’s, the artist withdrew from the public eye early in his career.

Lazarus left the city in the wake of Abstract Expressionism and settled in upstate New York. He would further develop the dark, surrealist vision of his early work. Isolated from art world, Lazarus eschewed exposure and was gradually forgotten. Due to recent rediscovery, today’s art audience is given a new opportunity to appreciate these previously unknown works.

According to Lazarus, an “impromptu impulse” informed his work, most of which are highly personalized pictures not intended for public display. He called his work “primagraphs,” meaning images which flowed freely from the unconscious and directly onto the paper.

These drawings, rendered in pencil, pen and ink, and colored wax pencils, range in tone from brooding and sardonic, to whimsical and mischievous. This exhibition features drawings produced over a span of four decades (1929-1973). In each piece, Lazarus meticulously employs his surrealist style to explore the subconscious imagination and the space of illusions.