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.