Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Ted Larsen

Joint Compound, salvage steel, marine-grade plywood, silicone, vulcanized rubber, hardware,
39 x 40 x 1.75, 2005-2012

A repost of my article at ModernHouston.net back in May 2012.

I have enjoyed encountering Ted Larsen’s work in a few group shows, but now I have the extreme pleasure of experiencing a solo exhibition at McMurtrey Gallery. Larsen’s show titled “Waste Land,” is a direct reference to his process of taking discarded objects and incorporating them into sculptures that make reference to the discipline of painting.

Ted Larsen assembles and creates flat surfaces out of weather worn objects. The work looks like minimalist painting, but it is clear these are constructed pieces. Larsen combines some of the best developments of Modernism to create a kind of Dada/Minimal hybrid. Larsen is continuing the conversation of high art/low art dichotomy by skillfully constructing discarded objects. The effect gives the look of traditional high art Modernism with the subversion of low art material. I’m reminded of Louise Nevelson and her constructions of found objects, but Larsen make his work fit in a tighter composition and I see more of a painter aesthetic than a sculptor. This is not to say Larsen isn’t interested in the 3 dimensional forms, because I have seen several of his investigations into sculpture, but somehow Larsen’s surface overshadows the object.

When I visited Maine, I often observed the effects of the sea on painted houses and boats. With his use of marine-grade plywood and the colors of painted metal, I can’t help but be transported back there. I can’t explain it, but even before I knew what material he used, I got this aura of a boat. It is as if these discarded metal pieces have the soul of a boat, while being reshaped into Larsen objects.

Ted Larsen’s art celebrates the flaking paint and the process of decay. His work counteracts
the practice of clean and finished works found in the minimalist tradition. Larsen has refined
the ready-made with subtle treason and thankfully not with an overt Rauschenbergesque
shock and sloppy style.
McMurtrey Gallery will be showing Ted Larsen’s “Waste Land,”
until May 25th.

Look at ModernHouston.net for more images.

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