Painter Mernet Larsen Turns Space and Reality on Their Heads—See Images From Her Topsy-Turvey Show at James Cohan Here

Larsen's humorous, often surreal narrative paintings are inspired by El Lissitzky's Constructivism.

Mernet Larsen, Deliverance (after El Lissitzky), (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.
Mernet Larsen, Deliverance (after El Lissitzky), (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen
at James Cohan Gallery
through January 23, 2021

What the gallery says: “For over six decades, Mernet Larsen has created narrative paintings depicting hard-edged, enigmatic characters that inhabit an uncanny parallel world filled with tension and wry humor. Larsen employs various spatial systems that often contradict: combining reverse, isometric, and conventional perspectives, she casts everyday scenarios into a vertigo-inducing version of reality akin to our own.”

Why it’s worth a look: In the topsy-turvy vortex Larsen composes, the constructivist themes of El Lissitzky are pushed to an almost farcical level. In mixed-up narratives, cartoon-like characters, all hard edges and angled features, populate a world of bisecting planes and surreal situations. Every straight line, from the spokes of a wheelchair to a sidewalk crack create individual paths that traverse the canvas. Stems of flowers, stems of wineglasses, scissor blades, all are points of departure in a world turned upside down.

What it looks like: 

 Mernet Larsen, <i>Solar System, Explained (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Solar System, Explained (after El Lissitzky) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

 Mernet Larsen, <i>Solar System, Explained (after El Lissitzky)</i>, [detail] (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Solar System, Explained (after El Lissitzky) [detail] (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, <i>Astronaut: Sunrise (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Astronaut: Sunrise (after El Lissitzky) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, <i>Astronauts: Sunset (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Astronauts: Sunset (after El Lissitzky) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

 Mernet Larsen, <i>Beach (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Beach (after El Lissitzky) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, <i>Gurney (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2019). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Gurney (after El Lissitzky) (2019). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Departure (after El Lissitzky), (2019). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Departure (after El Lissitzky) (2019). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, <i>Intersection (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Intersection (after El Lissitzky) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, <i>Deliverance (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Deliverance (after El Lissitzky) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

 Mernet Larsen, <i>Spy (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Spy (after El Lissitzky) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

 Mernet Larsen, <i>Dawn (after El Lissitzky)</i>, (2012). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.

Mernet Larsen, Dawn (after El Lissitzky) (2012). Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery.


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