It was a very special morning last week at the Tampa Museum of Art. Members were treated to an opening reception of its latest exhibition, Getting Measured. 1957-2017, with a visit from the artist, Mernet Larsen. The conversation with her was led by Joanna Robotham, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Mernet Larsen is one of this region’s most successful and well-known artists. A long-time resident of Tampa and New York City, Mernet is a former professor of painting and drawing at the University of South Florida where many area residents took classes with her during her 36-year teaching career. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally as well as extensively collected. Her contemporary figurative paintings are on display in Sydney, Australia, as part of a group exhibition coinciding with the Tampa Museum of Art solo exhibition.
Mernet made reference during her artist talk to her varying inspirations over the years, many of which are derived from her keen interest in art history. She cited 12th century Japanese narrative paintings, 15th century Italian painting and the geometric abstractions of Russian artist El Lissitzky as some of those.
This exhibition showcases her early abstract compositions that reflect her ongoing interest in exploring time, space and color. The later figurative paintings depict ordinary moments and activities where traditional perspective is reversed and she plays with those lines to render geometric forms. It is her unusual perspective and linear approach to figuration that render Mernet’s unique and genuine reflections of everyday life. Mernet explained to attendees she prefers the viewer to interpret the painting though on some occasions she has given consideration to interpretations she wanted to avoid.
The exhibition features never-before-seen early drawings from her student days, a select group of studies and works on paper and a survey of paintings from the 1960s to the present. You can see it in the second floor gallery now through Feb. 11, 2018.
The Tampa Museum of Art Getting Measured exhibition is sponsored in part by the Stanton Storer Embrace the Arts Foundation and Cathy Clayton, Clayton Galleries.