Mernet Larsen, Seminar, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 59 x 40 in., Courtesy of David Howe.
Mernet Larsen, Misstep, 2015, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 50 x 60 in., Courtesy of David Howe
Mernet Larsen, Reading in Bed, 2015, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 60 x 38 1/4 in., Courtesy of Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins
Mernet Larsen, Cup Tricks, 2018, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 56 7/8 x 38 1/4 in., Courtesy of Bill Ehrlich
Mernet Larsen, Conversation, 2012, acrylic and tracing paper on canvas, 35 1/2 x 49 3/4 in., Courtesy of James Cohan
Mernet Larsen, Drawing Hands, 2017, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 67 1/2 x 36 1/4 in., Courtesy of Jack and Ellen Kessler
Mernet Larsen, BarBQ, 2018, 50 x 50 in., Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York
Mernet Larsen: The Ordinary, Reoriented
Mernet Larsen (b. 1940) makes intriguing, humor- and tension-infused paintings featuring geometric figures that inhabit space in ways that defy gravity and conventional viewpoints. The artist stages ordinary scenes—people playing cards or eating dinner, a faculty meeting, reading in bed—but constructs them with vertiginous, skewed spatial relationships that convey a sense of precariousness. The disorienting treatment of perspective places the viewer inside and outside of the paintings at the same time, “as if they’re wearing the situation,” the artist describes. Along with the figures’ deadpan facial expressions and subtle body language, Larsen’s puzzling compositions reveal an essence of everyday human interaction. Wry, anxious and awkward, the paintings are frozen monuments that are simultaneously alien and familiar.
Mernet Larsen: The Ordinary, Reoriented is organized by the Akron Art Museum with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.