Gage John Lazare is not your typical First Nations artist recreating traditional themes and motifs, instead he’s a post-modern rebel.
From a very young age, Lazare felt destined to pick up a paintbrush. “I always wanted to be an artist – I guess from the minute I was born,” explained the 22-year-old Kahnawake resident on finding his artistic talents.
Spending his time in a stuffy classroom just wasn’t his style; neither was becoming a lawyer or a doctor.
Describing himself as different, original and energetic, Lazare said, “I just like doing my own thing, at my own pace.”
Inspired by American pop artist Andy Warhol, Lazare uses images of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy in his artwork.
“The idea is to do it bad, but in a good way.”
Lazare describes his art as “very in your face.” Taking an apolitical stance, he vulgarizes the images of influential personalities through a post-modern pop-art “look” and infuses them with a lively vibrancy through a different angle.
His acrylic and oil paintings are emotionally charged and affecting. But he also uses the modern media of online social networks, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to express what’s inside his head. In a way, he uses his art as a sort of therapy. “The more people you get out of your head, the better you feel,” he said.
More than just a painter, Lazare is also an entrepreneur preparing to debut his own self-titled t-shirt line, Gage John Lazare (G.J.L.) – a savvy new way to advertise his paintings. Based on the idea of bringing the dead back to life, he will screen-print his works, such as Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven, Elvis and Jim Morrison, onto the t-shirts
Looking toward the future, Lazare’s goal is to build an empire “bigger than Apple” – complete with his own luxury oxygen.
“The whole idea of confronting the world is what inspires me to pick up a paint brush.”
On August 26, Gage will be showcased at the Louvre Museum in Paris, where he will be staying for 10 months. He is part of an exhibit dedicated to Native American artists, and was selected from among the 100 artists across Canada who applied.
“They said my art is breaking stereotypes left and right,” said Lazare. “I already feel like I’ve accomplished my dream, so it makes me feel like I have to reach higher now.”
While in Paris, Lazare plans to work on a new series on famous assassinations revolving around how the American Dream kills the American Dream. This line will feature Marilyn Monroe, Lincoln and Kennedy, just to name a few.
“I’m inspired by life. I think people are fascinating because they all have their own story to tell.”
Afterward, he plans to travel the world, checking out Hong Kong, China and Japan. In November, he will visit Milan, Italy.
Looking to collaborate with Irish hat mogul Philip Treacy, Lazare hopes to sell his art to the British royal family as well as actress Lindsay Lohan, who will be staying in Paris for a month.
“I just want to get my art out to as many people as possible,” said Lazare. “I’m not going to stop. Every time someone says, ‘No’ that’s when I know I’m going to get what I want and just keep working upwards with everything I do.”
For more info: www.gagejohnlazare.com