Norwegian artist Liv Mette Larsen will have an exhibition at The Pink Room in Harlem from May 30 until June 30. Larsen came to New York after many years in Berlin. Architectural elements, along with silhouettes of moving figures, fragments of cityscapes and subway stations provide continuing sources for her. The negative space above a stairway or a crenellated skyline in her works are in spirit and color akin to Blinky Palermo’s subway series
The current paintings displayed in a grid of corresponding groups, come directly from what she sees out her studio window in Bushwick. Fragmented and selective, forms isolated against linen. She has a strict eye that flattens shapes. Scrap metal and rusted wires twist against a grey sky. Stacks of barrels on the adjacent roof, the ends become circles. Weathered colors framed in her view are misted green, the oxidized gutter pipes, a deep red doorframe, pthalo green dumpsters, caution orange and a specific Van Dyck brown. Out of the tangle of cable wires - certain lines picked out become a curve of music.
The exact geometric configurations of the paintings can be seen underfoot in the studio, in the painted floorboards, some patches left natural, some painted deep red, a scuffed white and the silver grey of gaffers tape. One feels that the surroundings are an extension of her strength and sensibility and not the other way around. By imposing her vision upon the existing industrial sights – Larsen has made them her own and allowed us to see their stringent beauty.
Liv Mette Larsen has an outsider’s view of Bushwick’s industrial grit and raw beauty. She uses egg tempera on sized linen and concocts her own paint mixing up a medium of eggs and damar varnish with powdered pigments. Berlin blue, or Berliner blau (different from Prussian blue) is a saturated reddish navy pigment - not known or available here. The intense and subtle ferric blue discovered by an eighteenth century alchemist is, fittingly for Larsen’s’ industrial subject matter, an “inorganic” modern chemical pigment. She discovered it as a young artist in Berlin searching the basement bins and barrels of suppliers of inexpensive but high quality housepainters colors.
The address to the gallery, at Harlem Jazz and Gospel Townhouse, is 2 West 123rd Street.