Ted Larsen : Rejoinder
Jun 9 – Jul 16, 2011
Robischon Gallery presents "Rejoinder," its first solo exhibition by New Mexico artist Ted Larsen. Long established in the studio practice of both painting and sculpture, Larsen's newest work offers a unique response to overt conversations in art. "Rejoinder" is a riposte to the art historical canon as it applies to abstract formalism ・a central theme for Larsen and the very conceptual underpinning that defines his own work.
As a background to his previous sculptural series, Larsen's focus has been to respond to Geometric Abstraction by diversifying purity of form and immaculate surface through a bricolage of materials. Demonstrating the hand of the artist while questioning the Geometric Abstraction movement's accepted tenets was explored utilizing scrap metal from junked boats and cars as well as demolished architectural structures. These elements were adhered to wood or joined with rivets to allow the viewer to identify with the familiarity of everyday materials while at the same time, reveal meaning within Abstraction's timeless geometry. Employing reclaimed materials occurs in the current exhibition as well, but only rarely and not as the primary aspect. Return Policy, a current work, presents a pure white, metal surface reminiscent of a painter's blank canvas. With an underpinning of an elaborate, diminutive scaffolding visible behind the blank surface, this work aptly illustrates what lies beneath ・in this case, Larsen's dialogue with Abstraction.
In a further departure from using solely re-purposed materials, Larsen joins planes of steel, aluminum edging and specially mixed enamel to create angular relationships between geometric elements that present subtle and more apparent optical illusions. For Some Assembly Required, a large yellow parallelogram simultaneously appears to come forth and recede in concert with the two white squares that anchor it as it offers an intriguing visual and metaphoric conundrum. Larsen's titles, such as Visual Palindrome, A Novel Approach or Absence of Presence, each convey Larsen's intellectual acuity as it applies to the physical manipulations of his configurations in space.
The witty boisterous shapes in Larsen's freestanding sculptures interact with the space around them, including a grouping of colorful stools re-imagined as, but not actual gallery seating, or the large-scale seemingly off-kilter sculpture that belies it's painstakingly riveted construction. Lean on Me possesses bold elements that do indeed rely on one another for jaunty support. The riveted forms give the appearance of faux dotted lines along the edges as if the sculpture were casually snipped out and snapped together tab-in-slot fashion. In a related work, a very bright, circular bulb shines so strongly that it makes it difficult to look directly at the artwork ・challenging the viewer both visually and intellectually.
The union of formal structure with a deconstructing nod toward the very hierarchy it exemplifies is the embodiment of Ted Larsen's constructed realities. He states, "The works keep possession of pleasing formality and visceral elegance while making light of modernist purity. This is a tribute to anti-triumphalism, the spontaneous, non-hierarchical, un-monumental thematic artistic landscape which offers no specific resolution and no isolation of meaning." Meant to prompt discussion, "Rejoinder" inevitably delivers objects undeniably abstract; open-ended and generous in both manner and concept. Ted Larsen emphasizes the "objectness" and physicality of art to communicate with the viewer directly instead of relying on art's illusory plane.
Ted Larsen graduated magna cum laude from Northern Arizona University. A recipient of the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant Award and the Edward Albee Foundation Residency Fellowship, Larsen's work is in the collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. He was also chosen to be the United States representative at the Asilah Arts Festival, Asilah, Morocco in 2011.