This week’s cover is unusual and distinctly that of artist Lawrence Roberts—whose work Dan’s Papers readers may recognize from past covers, including a tennis court, “Game of Shadows,” which coincided with the 2012 U.S. Open, and “A Touch of Romance,” which featured a picture of a dressed-up couple dancing on the beach. This week’s image is cool and sleek, like an Alex Katz—and without any trace of the artist’s hand. What forms an overhead view of a person in a kayak are simplified, individual shapes of pure, solid color. From his New York City abode, Roberts lets us in on his technique and background.
Do you spend time out here on the East End?
Though I don’t own a home here, I am fortunate to have friends and family stretching from West Hampton Dunes to Montauk. It is a rare summer weekend that doesn’t afford me the benefit of inspiration on the East End.
What is the title of this piece and what inspired it?
The title of the piece is “Caught by the River.” The singular person or object interacting with, being challenged by or challenging the environment is a theme that appears frequently in my work. If I can play with the viwer’s perspective and expectations, so much the better.
What is your artistic method? The crispness and clarity to the lines suggests it could almost be collage or digitally generated.
Very astute. You might describe what I do as “digital collage.” Most of my work is composed of photographic elements that have been simplified, reshaped and assembled on the computer to create the final product.
Describe your path, leading up to the first things you were creating and your work now? Did you go to art school or are you self-taught?
While I had some modest training in photography when I was young, the practical limitations of film photography, both artistic and physical, for a Manhattan apartment dweller, resulted in the pursuit being pushed to the side. The digital revolution allowed me to pick up a camera again in earnest since digital gave me the ability to produce results beyond the capabilities of film and without the need for a darkroom. The quality of the early digital cameras was so poor, though, that it became a necessity to simplify the photo data in order to obtain an aesthetic result. Images like the one on this week’s cover are the result of continual experimentation since then.
Living and working in Manhattan, and as a professor of law, what is a typical day like for you when you’re working on your artwork?
The flexibility that my approach affords means that the artistic process is completely integrated with daily life. I’m never without my camera, so I’m always able to gather source material. The process of shaping such imagery into a final product isn’t something that requires singular, large blocks of time. It enables me to hone a piece bit by bit and revisit it with a fresh perspective. I also find the creative process an excellent change of pace that re-energizes me.
What new projects are your working on for 2015. Where can we see more of your work?
Many of my newer pieces—and the original work that gave rise to past covers—can be found at saatchiart.com/lawroberts.