• “What is painting? This is a conceptual question that has its place in language. But painting exists outside language. It is found and has a place in another realm.”

    —Michael Müller
  • MICHAEL MÜLLER

    PAINTINGS

     
    Debuting in parallel with the artist's solo exhibition at the gallery, this online presentation focuses on the painterly oeuvre of Michael Müller, who until now has been known primarily for his conceptually complex, multilayered installations and performances, and as a curator. 
    Accompanying to his show at the gallery, it presents a number of series of programmatic painting: “Before and behind the glass,” “Reproduktion von Frühwerken,” “Handicap,” “Difficult Paintings,” “Abstract Autogamy,” “Entangled Works” and “Power of Judgement.”
    Through these works, Müller examines painting’s classical approaches, methods and techniques, as well as its formats, materials, presentation and reception. In so doing, he questions our learned expectations of painting. The groups of works each explore different aspects of the painterly process. 

     
    Michael Müller's exhibition at the gallery is on view through Saturday, 7 November.

  • ABOUT THE ARTIST

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Michael Müllers’s work develops out of existing historical narratives, methods and norms: systems which he pushes to their limits by modifying them along fictitious lines. His practice engages with the pictorialization of complex thought processes, whose transformation by various methods constitutes a slow and patient appropriation. Müller’s approach merges all kinds of different media including drawing, sculpture, installation, video and performance. He is also known for his curatorial practice and has frequently curated exhibitions of his own work and that of other artists.
    Michael Müller, born 1970 in Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany, lives and works in Berlin. He studied sculpting and fine arts with Magdalena Jetelová at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. From 2015 to 2018 he has been a professor at Berlin University of the Arts. In 2018, he was nominated for the Prize of the Böttcherstraße at Kunsthalle Bremen. He received great critical and curatorial attention for his cycle “Eighteen Exhibitions”, begun in 2013 with Galerie Thomas Schulte. In the summer of 2017, this ended after a total of 33 individual exhibition projects and four performances that took place in the gallery, in the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2015/16) and in the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2016/17).

  • “Every boundary – whether it is culturally encoded, materially circumscribed, or rationally established – is a provocation for Michael Müller. Through literature, language, text, music, dance, as well as dress and objects, the artist sets the entire force of his work against any fixed definitions from cultural methodologies and academic determinability. Michael Müller creates an intelligible, artistic network of actions in his oeuvre in which he conceives of its methods and objects as constantly new inquiries into artistic authorship. He makes frameworks of representation visible not only by underining them, but also by revealing patterns of materialization. In so doing, he deploys established genres, practices, and processes, scrutinizing these as parts of an interwoven network that are propelled by their own activity.”

     

    —Heike Fuhlbrügge

  • BEFORE AND BEHIND THE GLASS

    “Before and behind the glass” is the title of the first series of abstract paintings, presented by Müller in the main exhibition space. Using a range of materials, from glass, canvas and metal as surfaces to paint on, the artist explores possibilities of shaping the relationship between an image’s projected spatial effects and its nature as a painting and three-dimensional object. By painting on glass, which usually separates the painting from its surroundings, we as viewers see the paint from behind through the transparent surface. The composition of the final work, which in some cases consists of several layers of paint on transparent and non-transparent surfaces, requires Müller to paint in reverse: The mental blueprint of the work’s final composition is painted backwards to forwards. Moreover, the paint seen from behind the glass appears as a smooth, saturated surface. The brushstroke, the physical trace of the artist’s hand—traditionally central to the painterly process— remains hidden; concealed in the small space between the glass and the canvas or wall.

    BEFORE AND BEHIND THE GLASS

    Tsingtao, 2019
    Acrylic on glass and canvas
    206 x 167 x 6 cm | 81 x 65 3/4 x 2 1/3 in

  • “The painting that was and will be is that of art historians and scientists. The painting that is, is that of the living. The painting that is, is that of the painters. Should it be empty of content, which I fear, how could I grasp its essence? To ask about it seems an impertinent injustice.”

    —Michael Müller

  • Reproduktion von Frühwerken

    Michael Müller began this series, that includes sculptures and drawings as well as paintings, trying to trace back and reconstruct his own development as an artist since childhood. Many of his early clay sculptures, drawings and paintings however are lost or destroyed. Müller therefore aims at reconstructing them from memory, albeit being fully aware that his own memory of them is fragmented and unreliable. Thus, the artist questions whether the reconstruction of something that is lost is at all possible and at the same time asks if and to what extent an artist or author of a work remains the same over the passage of time. And is the lost work ultimately the “original” and the reconstruction secondary, or is the early work instead the “draft” or “design” for the later, mature work?
    Reproduktion von Frühwerken

    Lage der Freiheit, 2019/2020
    Acrylic, gesso, lacquer paint on Belgian canvas and plexiglass
    182 x 283 x 8.5 cm | 71 2/3 x 111 1/2 x 3 1/3 in

  • “Painting is a process with a double meaning. It is a Delphic document of the progress of the negotiation between painter and matter in the picture and evidence of the painter’s final departure from painting, letting a picture simply be a pictureas an admission.”

     

    —Michael Müller

  • Handicap

    Müller used his fingers to create a further, smaller series of works, “Handicap”. He also used special tools, to make obstruct and impede the painting process, such as windshield wipers, a mop, a scalpel, rollers or an encrusted, dry brush. The artist thus deconstructs the myth of the artist’s ingenious hand—a myth dating back to the Neolithic period; to the imprint of the human hand found by archaeologists in early cave paintings.

    Handicap
  • STUDIO VISIT

    STUDIO VISIT

    Michael Müller describes his approach to painting and more specificallyhis take on abstraction, while working on six large paintings for a site-specific installation inside the windows of the gallery’s 9-meter-high Corner Space.

     

  • Abstract Autogamy

    The series, “Abstract Autogamy” combines photography and painting; blending together themes of figuration and abstraction. In this series, photographs are printed on aluminum dibond sheets and framed behind an abstract glass painting. Though both parts of the diptych are based on the same image, they appear in a mirrored, enlarged or otherwise abstracted form, thus making their relationship at once tangible yet complex. Aside from their shared color palette and image reference, the painting and photograph behind it are conceived of as compositionally independent. The term autogamy, in the series’ title, is borrowed from the field of biology, where it describes the phenomenon of self-pollination or self-fertilization among certain plant and animal species. Müller’s “autogamies” show men and women masturbating. Müller sees the eradication of the dialectical separation between subject and object in auto-sexuality as analogous to abstraction—to painting an object that only refers to itself. Like in auto-sexuality a partner or object is often imagined—projected—from memory, thus begging the question: What is the pictorial memory of abstraction?

    Abstract Autogamy
  • “Painting means essence and not plurality. To look for the spirit of painting in language will fail. A picture is always singular.”

     

    —Michael Müller

  • Difficult Paintings

    The series “Difficult Paintings” is a group of diptychs, each consisting of a larger picture in landscape format and a smaller picture in portrait format. Both parts of the diptych are hung side by side, though at different angles. In this way, the relationship between the two parts becomes both complex and unequal. In all cases, the smaller picture comes second to the larger, original work, thus acting as a form of commentary within the broader composition. Each painting in the pair took varying time to complete and were painted using different methods. This marked temporal dimension plays a decisive role in further complicating the relationship between the larger and smaller parts. For, although the larger picture came first, the second picture reproduces an earlier state of the first that has been painted over in the final version. Thus, Müller uses the means of reproduction to document and visualize a decision made during the painting process.

    Difficult Paintings
  • “Painting and people share the fate of being incomprehensible. They are beyond rationality. They are both banal.”

     

    —Michael Müller

  • POWER OF JUDGEMENT POWER OF JUDGEMENT POWER OF JUDGEMENT POWER OF JUDGEMENT

    POWER OF JUDGEMENT

    The painting-installation Power of Judgement. A single painting is presented in the center of the room, attached with a flexible joint to a free-standing metal pole. The visitor is invited to change and manipulate the orientation of the painting by moving it around. For this purpose, the frame of the painting has been equipped with handles. The viewer is thus enabled to break with otherwise deterministic and standardized formats of exhibiting and viewing painted works.

     


    Ästhetisches Urteil (Entscheidungsträger Name_________), 2020
    Lacquer on Belgian linen
    200 x 160 x 2.5 cm | 78 3/4 x 63 x 1 in

  • Entangled Works

    In the series “Entangled Works,” Müller uses the analogy of entangled particles to describe the relationship between two sides of a diptych painted on glass. In quantum theory, entangled particles describe an as-yet unexplained phenomena, whereby two particles or objects are described in reference to one another though they are spatially separated—often by light-years. Changes in one object become observable in the other even though they have no means of communicating. Leaning on the quantum mechanical notion of the “freedom-of-choice loophole,” Müller argues that the degree of autonomy within abstract painting has been overestimated, and that there remain countless unknown influences, limitations, and preconditions that subtly restrict an artist’s range of choices, not to mention the physical laws of gravity and their implications for both painting and perception.

    Entangled Works

    There is a Rainbow Behind the Hills Nr. 1 (Healing Landscape), 2020
    Color lacquer on Belgian linen and glass
    (2x) 206 x 163 cm | 81 x 64 in