presentation of the bowls of Merete Larsen at the Marianne Brand
Gallery in Carouge, close to Geneva, is a rarefied moment of
pure emotion. Such absolute understanding of the material, pure
aesthetic pleasure, such a multitude of shapes and infinite
lightness of texture is utterly breathtaking.
It is the fruition of an
exacting and delicately meticulous artist’s intimate and
peacefully anchorite voyage into the mystery and very essence of
Like a tenacious
funambulist she defies weight and extracts light from dense and
opaque wooden mass, which is imparted with the almost improbable
translucent lightness and beauty of opals and glass. The wood
is pushed to paroxysmal extremes that seem to transcend all
limits imposed by the material.
Challenging the raw
wooden slabs of her material, Merete Larsen purges them into
transparent weightlessness evoking purification.
An alchemist of the
forest, she selects the rarest essence and painstakingly
identifies the pieces upon which time has conferred a crude
beauty of its own; she hollows it, turns it and transforms it.
She does not sculpt, but
lets the live material be her guide, as she patiently, but
forcefully scoops out unwanted mass with subtle craft akin to a
master violin builder’s, as the bowl is inexorably persuaded to
take on the whispering fineness of a feather, while its
thickness is reduced to danger point and beyond.
This solitary walk into
the heart of the forest, defying the gravity of the massive
trunks and logs which form her point of departure, brings to
light the colours, the burrs, and the very texture of the wood,
delicately unveiling the myriad scars of noble rot, and the
infinite patterns of variation inflicted by time on the flesh of
the living tree.
The process, unique as
it is, is wrought with peril. Where to stop, how to perceive
the physical limit of the material, requires nothing but
complete empathy, lest it be pushed beyond its endurance.
recollections of 18th century china, the individual
pieces are peculiarly vibrant and their visionary colours,
whether natural or enhanced by staining inks of profound
tonality, as well as their gentle and vivacious curves, lend
them a unique sensuality. Their rich and generous shapes
contrast with the extreme finesse of their base and make their
equilibrium appear almost miraculous.
She executes works of
such lightness, grace, luminosity and diaphaneity as to appear
to transcend the fragile line separating the material from the
Geneva, April 2006