AND I MAKE IT ALL WRONG

 MERNET LARSEN and her ‘irrational’ geometry.

By Rosanna Albertini

(From “Mernet Larsen: Things people do” some studies
at James Cohan Gallery, New York)

It’s a painted world based on measurements, but staging the least reasonable forms and social stories. A nosy face sends the nose inside another face to see what, who, why to describe? It’s delightful nonsense.

MERNET LARSEN, Dialogue 2012, Acrylic on Bristol board 15 1/2" x 19" Courtesy of the artist and james Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Dialogue 2012, Acrylic on Bristol board 15 1/2″ x 19″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Study for Couple #2 2004, Acrylic on Bristol board 19" x 16" Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Study for Couple #2 2004, Acrylic on Bristol board 19″ x 16″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, "Couple" Study #3 2004, Acrylic on Bristol board 17 3/4" x 11 3/4" Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, “Couple” Study #3 2004, Acrylic on Bristol board 17 3/4″ x 11 3/4″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bodies in the drawing are supported by a metrical grid like fish in the net. The artist brings them into a space that seems constructed, at times, with broken shards of glass suspended in mid air. I love her studies. The geometrical preparation is still visible, it refuses analog replicas of life, although colors suggest odd metamorphosis: a piece of sky that fills a human block sitting at the table, a tree who plays being human. Green light blue men similar no eyes no legs maybe the table is a cloud pretending to be solid.

MERNET LARSEN, Study for Cube 2005, Acrylic on Bristol board 19" x 24" Courtesy of the artist and james Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Study for Cube 2005, Acrylic on Bristol board 19″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

There is no way a single viewpoint can explore these visual stories without feeling destabilized, or without engaging the many viewpoints at work inside each piece, or conflicting with the natural perception outside the piece, until the brain isn’t sure. Except, Larsen’s people look as if shaped by a pasta machine, caged in parallel lines. This is evident. Forward or backward, parallels run like freeways dragging bodies out from the natural space, maybe into a timeless land.

MERNET LARSEN, Faculty Meeting Study 2008, Acrylic on Bristol Board 19" x 24" Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Faculty Meeting Study 2008,   Acrylic on Bristol Board 19″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Study for Reunion 2014, Acrylic on Briston board 19" x 24" Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Study for Reunion 2014, Acrylic on Briston board 19″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

In this blog I usually don’t split art history hairs. I try to forget I was an eighteenth century philosophy scholar for a long time. But I can’t dismiss the reference to El Lissitzky and Chinese landscapes I found in Larsen’s statement and in every essay written about her. By old habit, I plunged my brain into Russian axonometry, Proun volumes floating in virtual spaces, [Proun: Design for the confirmation of the new], and the revolutionary hostility against the idea and practice of perspective since European renaissance painting.
“Space has been limited by perspective, closed into edges. In art, bodies of numbers have become more rich…” El Lissitzky. Mathematical thoughts defy infinity, political passion feeds a search for limitless expansion of geometrical ideas beyond Euclid, unconditioned by gravity or historical frames.

And really Chinese landscapes are light, slow motion eye movements presenting trees water and mountains not as they are, they are not realistic, just as a continuous expansion in space. The vanishing point? Impossible.

I can see Mernet Larsen inspired by both.

Yet, I would like to link her unique perception of our present reality, her search of an essence, to a post industrial experience I had not a long time ago, walking through the factory of Ferrari, near Bologna. I had the awkward sensation of moving my feet and legs across multiple crossings of invisible, parallel lines designed for robotic creatures. Humans weren’t welcomed. At every step they had to negotiate their space with fast metallic ‘artuditus‘ programmed to be efficient, not to observe good manners.

The factory is a climate controlled pavilion where air and humidity are adapted to the needs of chemical areas, fusion pits, and protected containers in which the car’s single separate organs and limbs are generated, with no intervention of human hands. Only robots can keep the required level of precision. They often look like the long bar legs and arms of Larsen’s creatures. Tropical plants in pots give the illusion of a green house. Some historical Ferraris at one of the edges look like a monumental bunch of flowers. Nobody knows why such marvelous technological champions are not able to win the races.
Although the factory makes it all right, the result is not what everyone expected.

“I want the mechanisms of my paintings to be fully visible, each painting an index of my painting behavior: measuring, layering, carving, texturing, coloring, pasting.”

“These paintings are at once a tribute, affectionate parody, and critique of Renaissance narrative painting. They reflect a longing for something lost, and a desire for a sense of space and narrative unity more in accord with contemporary concepts of reality.” Mernet Larsen

MERNET LARSEN, Indecisive Woman 2000, Acrylic on Bristol board 19" x 24" Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Indecisive Woman 2000, Acrylic on Bristol board 19″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Gunfighters 2001, Acrylic on Bristol board 15" x 24" Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSEN, Gunfighters 2001, Acrylic on Bristol board 15″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSON, Getting Measured Study 1999, Acrylic on Bristol board 19" x 24" Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

MERNET LARSON, Getting Measured Study 1999, Acrylic on Bristol board 19″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery

It’s always illusion. Geometry is based on mathematical magnitudes generated by the human mind, it is a space with no equivalents in nature. Outlines and forms we discover through our senses: mountains or houses or horses, “are absolutely different from the space of geometry.” Poincaré, 1905.

But the human landscape infects Larsens’ geometrical figures with attitudes that it is impossible not to recognize. The arms grow following the position of shooting, become longer when uncertainty fills them, shrink in the act of waiting. Heads like bricks little gray hearts maybe not beating how to survive monsters who are bigger in the distance if one doesn’t have legs to escape? Shaped and reshaped by movement, and by sense of humor. Heads, witty heads without bodies are able to smile behind their flatness, even between the lines, they are still human.

Between The Lines : AIMEE GARCIA

CUBA – AIMEE GARCIA’s SUPREMATIST SPEECH – LOS ANGELES

 Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

cuerdas, lectura, alas – strings, reading, wings

By Rosanna Albertini

Put the title in your mouth. Strings, reading, wings : a bird screeching, in anger or pain. The wind is stronger, faster than his flight. The bird doesn’t stop, resting doesn’t fit his American temper. Try the Spanish mouth. Cuerdas, lectura, alas. Words that bring a feeling of  whiteness, calm. A large page with no resistance waits for history to be forgotten.

Aimee, the artist’s name, melts the two sounds into one. In my Italian mouth, Aimee is a silent moan that doesn’t slip into the throat. It doesn’t need voice.

In her Cuban isolation, Aimee Garcia has transformed in art flowers of intelligence, never complaining. I could see myself in her collages, or any of the humans living on earth. We are all shredded by the same storm. Really the past could teach? As languages, politics, internet, financial games, advertisements tie our lives into the same bundle of voices fighting for primacy, believing takes the place of the dirty window we look through. We don’t know what we really know.

So I thank Aimee for her suprematist speech which is a portrait of us all like flies tangled in the news’ spiderweb. But her images also are, strongly and gracefully, the portrait of a possible flight out, a non-objective getting away from the written reality toward secret, inner transformations. Between the lines, the artist. Very much like Simone Forti who reads the news only noticing and remembering them as they slip into emotions, digging ponds in her heart.
(See Flag in The Water, https://albertini2014.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/flag-in-the-water/)

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 31″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

Aimee’s speech is made with colors and embroidered into the paper. She is threading herself, and looking at us from behind the cuerdas : her hand works like a cursor: ploughing into words, while sowing that “primacy of pure feelings” that Kasimir Malevich called SUPREMATISM about one hundred years ago. “The visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling; as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” (KM) When she reads, Aimee visits her own mental field that is not necessarily the same as Cubans’ or, as far as I don’t know, a simple acceptance of a theory married to Russian revolution as if both, ideas and political upheavals, were a block sculpted by time instead of myriads of crumbs and broken steps.

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, laminated collaged newspapers, threads Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, Laminated collaged newspapers, thread 15″ x 12″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

And yet, I believe that Aimee recalling the old suprematist credo right now, the old regime facing the last days, finds a personal way of telling that a past life is in her hair, her skin, her face and in her mind. Up to us to read the change, to try her wings.

Life doesn’t disappear mutating in nothing. Automation devours objects, suits, furnitures, the wife and the fear of war.
If the very complex life of many goes away and we are not conscious it is gone, then it’s like if it had never existed.
Here we are, in order to bring back the meaning of life, to “feel” the objects, to see that a stone is stony, we have what we call ART. … a way to feel how the object becomes something else. The already done doesn’t matter.
VIKTOR SHKLOVSKY*

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2019, oil on canvas, 24" x 28" Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2009, oil on canvas, 24″ x 28″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

This is a flower painted by Aimee Garcia : Resistencia I, 2009. It is the last moment of beauty before the petals wither. Natural beings are lucky, they fall apart, molecules. Ever heard of a ghost flower? History takes a longer time to disappear, but in the end it does, ghost and monuments, forever. Art is for now.
If the object survives, the same doesn’t happen to its meanings : meanings are parasites of the living.

…just this way just this one time. Incidentally, we human beings also belong in part to this class of unique events.
ROBERT MUSIL**

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

*Viktor Shklovsky, Theory of Prose, 1929, English translation 1990 by Benjamin Sher. Dalkey Archive Press, Illinois State University, 1991.

** Robert Musil, Precision and  Soul, originally in Gesammelte Werke edited by Adolph Frisé, 1978. Edited and translated by by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, The University of Chicago Press, 1990.