Selected Press


“A striking polyester sari printed with emojis, another with Apple logo, others with doodle art, draped with wonderful nonchalance by women in a Jaipur market is what impressed independent American artist Margaret Lanzetta to conclude that the sari was now a canvas of modern expression and had freed itself from the stereotype made out to be.

The point that one is missing, believes Margaret, is of the continuous and contemporary evolution of the sari, both as a garment and in design. “ It’s being overlooked. A lot of scholars want to look at only the glorious traditional patterns and I believe they are missing what’s happening now. The sari patterning is modern and not stuck in a historical time warp,” she says....modern designs are appearing, a fallout of globalization and cultural homogeneity.  Her art project as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Folded Language, validates her inferences.

 ‘I am focusing on patterns used in contemporary saris and how this reflects a changing, more interconnected world….I love the idea that people are being free to create and embrace new motifs on an apparently traditional garment,’ says Margaret.”

–Priyadershini S., “The Language of the Sari” in The Hindu, 2016

“[T]he artist spent 2012 living and painting in the old city of Fez, the largest and oldest medina in the world. She described the landscape as a ‘visceral sensation’ of cultural and aesthetic convergence that left its mark on her practice. The labyrinthine medina, overwhelming in its density and the fragmented beauty of its architecture, revealed ‘colors and patterns consistently forming and re-forming….shifting in and out of focus.’ This context encouraged Lanzetta to query the meaning of globalization, nationalism, cultural identity, and fragmentation. In Lanzetta’s visual interpretation, the medina’s confined claustrophobic environment is subconsciously articulated by more fragmented compositions and new color palatte of the paintings in the Blues For Allah series.”

–George Bajalia and Anna Jacobs, “Blues for Allah: Artist Margaret Lanzetta’s Reflections on Patterns Across Time & Space” AT, 2015

“As Lanzetta has fed her increasingly omnivorous appetite from an ever-widening field of visual cultures, however, she has also dug deeper into these sources’ histories, exploring how form speaks to notions of aesthetics, power, and beauty…..In her multi-paneled silkscreen entitled “Dharma Index,” Lanzetta really hits her mark. Here, Lanzetta overlaid Morrocan zellij patterns adopted from the Royal Palace in Fez (printed in a Hindi palette of deep pinks and orange), onto fragments of diasporic mosque floor plans. She ventures thus into an edgier, but somehow still lush and lyrical, sampling of the ‘incommensurable narratives’ described by art theorist Terry Smith in his studied definition of the contemporary.”

–Carol Schwarzman, “MARGARET LANZETTA: Reign Marks” IN THE BROOKLYN RAIL, 2012

“If the world exists to end up in a book, as the symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé claimed, or as a bodiless image on a high resolution screen, as postmodernist theorists have advanced, then one of the artist’s preoccupations is how to read and understand a constantly changing, visually insistent, multitudinous world. In Margaret Lanzetta’s bold, graphic paintings, the artist weaves, jams together and recombines patterns and shadow images in order to understand their often-unacknowledged presence in our lives. We see them, but do not notice them. Derived from both the world she inhabits and the very different societies in which she has traveled and stayed for extended periods of time— Japan, India, Syria, etc.— her vocabulary of silhouettes and symbolic motifs embraces the postmodern age and ancient cultures, both East and West. Her sources encompass Buddhism and stylized details of Islamic architecture; nature (plant forms) and machinery (gear wheels and cogs); ordered and disordered grids; patterns and repetitions of distinct organic or geometric structures; and abstract, decorative signs often rendered in industrial or printer’s saturated colors. Out of this plethora of diverse and competing languages, many of which are embedded so deeply in their respective cultures as to be taken for granted, Lanzetta fashions both a response and a commentary.”

–john yau, from “Pet The Pretty Tiger: Works 1990-2010” catalogue at Cantor Gallery, Worcester, Massachusetts, curated by Carol Schwarzman, 2010

“Lanzetta’s work exists in a process of constant shifting of place and point of view. There is an ongoing negotiation and construction of how to breathe and live even when the here is moving. Steeped in an insistent, physical repetition, Lanzetta makes paintings in a mantra-like practice with infinite variables, subtle shifts and replete with motifs. This repetition, like a meditation practice, inscribes into the body, shapes the body and through this cultivates the mind. Her methods suspend assigned meaning and position the work in a process of striving towards, rather than setting the work in a fixed destination or place. Lanzetta asks: how do we give up the mooring? How do we uproot? How can we see from a point outside of the place from which we come? How do we see anything beyond a surface view that pins down immediately into an erroneous translation?”

–judy halebsky, from “Pet The Pretty Tiger: Works 1990-2010” catalogue at Cantor Gallery, Worcester, Massachusetts, curated by Carol Schwarzman, 2010

“Pleasure, Beauty and Desire are always in the forefront of Margaret’s concerns, as are the universality of decoration and pattern, issues of mechanical reproduction and our relationship with the natural world. Her postmodern romanticism forms a hybrid of industry and nature by initiating a site to fabricate at their intersection.”

–Carol Schwarzman, from “Pet The Pretty Tiger: Works 1990-2010” catalogue at Cantor Gallery, Worcester, Massachusetts, curated by Carol Schwarzman, 2010

“Margaret Lanzetta’s painting, Distant Theatres focuses on the common patterns that might just be on the walls of our living rooms or on the fabric that covers our sofas. The motif is that the lotus bud and flower-a plant native to the Fertile Crescent, present day Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. The lotus has religious symbolism in the Middle East and in Asia, where for Hindu and Buddhists it represents ‘purity of body, speech and mind, floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire.’ Blown up to mammoth size and painted in ominous black, Distant Theatres offers political commentary as well as a reminder of how embedded Western and Eastern culture are.”

–Joseph Carroll, Curator, from “Vapor Trail” catalogue at Bernard Toale Gallery, Boston, 2006

“Lanzetta’s new paintings are enamel, acrylic and pigmented pulp on paper mounted on canvas. These bold, vibrant works consist of fragmented, superimposed ‘stylized visual systems’, referring to cultural overlap and global migrations. They are part of her Confection Series, which comments on the proposed deployment of U.S. Military bases (known as “lily pads”) throughout Central Asia and North Africa.”

–Mina Takahashi, in Hand Papermaking, 2006

“Painter Margaret Lanzetta derives patterns that characterize her work from a variety of sources: contemporary industrial screens, details of Indian architecture, motifs from historic Mughal carpets and plant forms. Her own studies or existing photographs are scanned into a computer, manipulated to achieve the desired scale and transferred to screens....Lanzetta’s work embodies an innovative marriage of digital technology with the traditional methods of papermaking and printmaking that mirrors her amalgamation of contemporary and historic imagery, the machine-made and the hand made, industrial and organic.”

–Gill Saunders and Rosie Miles, Curators, from Prints Now: Directions and Definitions, Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, victoria and albert press, 2006

“Margaret Lanzetta’s work is built upon a meticulous observation of the anonymous patterns in everyday existence-and a redoubtable creative will. Her newest works, while continuing to incorporate the grid, conjure atmospheres and cultures. While reshaping an endless available stream of industrial products and visual tropes from the developing and industrial worlds, she has gone beyond her earlier, exclusively geometric-based work by linking the industrial, organic and cultural, through their underlying confluence of pattern or imprints. Repetition becomes the unifying energy, much like the drone of a bee, or the relatively dependable petals of a daisy. Her work seeks to balance across a rift between culture and nature. She equates culture with industrialism, and nature with the organic. She creates systems in which information is found, or lifted out of context, and then remixed into succinct economic analogues for infinity. These infinites produce an intimacy and so a cycle is completed and the wave function of back and forth, up and down, continues to fluctuate visually and from the personal toward the universal. ‘Remixing’ is a good musical metaphor for the initial process of looking at one of Lanzetta’s compositions-rhythms are absorbed and sensed first. A connection to text or language follows.”

–Carol Schwarzman, “Margaret Lanzetta at Deborah Berke Projects” in Zing Magazine

“How do we define ‘the contemporary’, can we collect it, and if so, how should we do it? A look at some of the issues from the perspective of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The arguments are illustrated by a selection of recent acquisitions… We certainly aim to collect in those areas which extend our strengths-acquiring websites as an extension of commercial graphics or products of consumer culture. Increasingly artists are turning to digital media too-either to produce work which exists only in digital form, or as a means of manipulating imagery to output in digital form. This latter application is represented by the deceptively fluid and painterly works by Margaret Lanzetta.”

Gill Saunders, Senior Curator, Contemporary Section, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, “Collecting the Contemporary”

“The title of Margaret Lanzetta’s God’s Memory alludes to a spiritual perfection but ironically presents an irregularity in pattern and design. The artist’s hand is clearly present in this work whose stark black-and-white plant background competes with the gray, crisscrossing grid-like lines of varying thicknesses painted on it. This work exemplifies a co- operation between natural and synthetic patterns that were digitally altered for scale. Where there is a suggestion of symmetry, asymmetry rules. As a result, chaos and order play in an abstract field that has links to the organic and non-figurative decoration of Islamic art and architecture.”

–Edwin T. Ramoran, Curator, The Bronx Museum, “Paper Remix”

“Emphasis on process is the link in this show….Margaret Lanzetta layers grid patterns in black, gray and white.”

–Ken Johnson, Review of “ Six Abstract Painters” at Karen McCready Gallery, New York City, in The New York Times 

“Margaret Lanzetta’s lush translucent works engage a concern untouched by any of the other pieces, in that she directly appropriates the culturally-occurring form, as opposed to the Incidental, or the naturally-occurring form, as opposed to the other artists gathered here. Piling layer upon layer of her exquisitely-detailed lead rubbings of urban grates, Lanzettaironically, in the end, references nature, as do the grates themselves, if indirectly. My first impression upon walking into her studio one day was that jungle vines, or perhaps thorned roses, were weaving their way to the ceiling.”

–Jeff Howe, “material madness” at The Work Space Gallery