Monica Lazzari and the Integrity of Viewing

Monica Lazzari, a regular Arts Project Australia studio artist since 2006, creates complex abstract paintings and collage. Vibrant and multi-layered, Lazzari employs a vast colour palette with meticulous application of media. The works are active spaces, resonating with energy.

In this interview, reflecting on two works on paper from 2017 and 2019, she contemplates striking a balance between impulsiveness and planned structure in her compositions. Following, she speaks passionately on the fluid language of art which, she believes, viewers should feel without interference.

Lazzari (born 1985) has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Home (locations around Arts Centre Melbourne, the city and the surrounds), Now the heart is filled with gold as if it were a purse (curated by Glenn Barkley), Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne; and each Annual Gala at Arts Project Australia since 2006.

Monica Lazzari, Not titled, 2017, fine liner; pencil on paper, 28 x 38.5 cm, ML17-0004


Can you tell me more about the composition and colours you have selected in Not titled (2017)? 

I’ve always liked Autumn leaves. It’s a live drawing: I went out and picked the leaves and placed around the glasses around. It was a still life set up in the studio at Arts Project Australia.

I like every single colour I used. I chose to use bright colours- they make me happy. I love all colours, and I find it hard to say no to one colour because I don’t want any to miss out- except this one time I challenged myself only to use four colours. I also used fine-pen to outline the cups and the leaves. I like to do a lot of pattern work. Sometimes, I want to make a pattern but not a [strict] pattern because my eyes play on me! There is kind of a pattern, but at the same time, it’s random.

Can you also tell me about this other work- Snakes (2019)? There is a lot of spontaneity! 

It makes me thinks of snakes because of all the wavy lines made from acrylic paint. I kept free spaces to give it space to flow, although one side is busier than the other. This sort of composition was an accident. It wasn’t planned. There are also the patterns on the snakes, that was planned and really thought about. I love the pink background- it makes it look 3D, like the snakes are jumping out at you.

Monica Lazzari, Snakes, 2019, acrylic on paper, 41 x 49.5 cm, ML19-0001


You told me before this interview that art is not meant for words, but to be looked at. Can you tell me more about that?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But a picture doesn’t talk to you- it takes you places. It can make you feel happy, it can make you feel scared, it can make you feel lost. It has that power. Whatever the viewer wants to feel when they look, it is what’s true. There is no right or wrong. When you look at a picture, it’s how you feel.

I don’t really like to give titles because when people look at a picture- you’re feeling what you’re feeling. If I give a title, I am telling someone they have to feel one way, or they have to try to see ‘this’ in my picture. I want people to look and think that they can see something – like a hand or an eye. I want them to be able to see whatever they want to see. The work belonged to me when I was working on it, but now it no longer belongs to me, it belongs to the world and the viewer who it is looking at it at this moment. I’ve done my bit. Now, the viewer can look at it and see what they want to see.   

You also have told me before that art helps you cope. Can you talk on that?

Ever since, maybe since I was two or four years old, I’ve always been into making stuff, creating things, putting colours together, playing around with materials. It’s the language of what I do. It helped me interact with life, but it’s also an escape route. It’s like how some people watch movies or read a book or write poetry or sing a song- everyone has their coping strategies.  

Love from the Studio is a series of interviews and articles bringing you behind the scenes of Arts Project Australia.  Interview by Margaret McIntosh, Gallery Technician; article edited by Tahney Fosdike, Marketing & Communications Coordinator