artist / participant

press release

ProjecteSD is honoured to present the solo exhibition of Matt Mullican “Breaking up is hard to do”. The show discloses the basic concepts of Mullican´s oeuvre and his particular visual universe through a selection of recent works.

For the last three decades, Matt Mullican has produced a body of work which investigates the processes of perception, just how we may translate the world around us, and how reality is constructed in fact through our imagination. It is the rich world of experiences and visual information which Mullican aims to structure and categorise encyclopaedically in a huge arsenal of images and signs. Since the late seventies, performances carried out under hypnosis have played a key role in Mullican´s oeuvre. They make clear that his cosmology has an emotional origin and starts exploring perception by his own body. The performances are the basis of his often-stated “entering the picture”: to see the world, or a picture of it, to explore the border between fiction and reality, a way to challenge the relation between object and subject, and an essential tool for Mullican to develop the whole structure of his work. A video recording of his performance at the Kunsthalle in Zurich (2003) is presented in the show. Directly connected to the trance video is Learning from that Person´s work (2005-2006), an extension of Mullican's project presented at the Ludwig Museum (2005). It consists of an installation made out of bed sheets onto which a collection of drawings on paper are mounted. Paper works whose authorship the artist ascribes to “that person”, the character that Mullican turns into during his performances under hypnosis. In these drawings, elements of routine every day life, a “biography” of "that person" appear. More than a specific individual, “that person” is a modus operandi, an experimental framework with which the artist can immerge into a fictionalized form and scrutinize the imaginary in its relation to constructed images, objects and spaces around us. Both the performances and this work relate to what Mullican calls “World Unframed”, those everyday life actions and processes that we do not realize, do unconciously, but that play an important role in our conception of reality.

The emotional quality and directness of these works contrasts with the Default atmospheres (2003) lightboxes. Here Mullican plays with virtuality, a ficticious world again but worked out with radically opposed media. These are computer generated images where Mullican uses standarised models for various physical elements, as light, air and humidity to get a “default landscape view“. The extreme lack of matter of these images contrasts with the visual fascination that radiates from them. They are trivial and sublime, high and low, images of austere beauty but completely fake.

The chart, the arrangement of signs according to an established order, is another constant element in Mullican´s work. He has succeeded in producing his charts in a large variety of media. A new work, Untitled (2006), a three dimensional chart is presented. It consists of seven glass balls with symbols and drawings on their surface where he categorises the ordered system in which his world is divided. There are two sets of three spheres connected with wire, so that a whole new set of relationships are established, suggesting new meanings. Charts can also be read in the two animated cosmologies (2005) presented in the show. Two meditative computer animations showing the basic substructures of Mullican's well-known cosmology of abstract symbols making reference to birth and death, as a cyclic transformation of structures and symbols. In another self-explanatory animation work, Dying Stick Figure, (2001) he goes back to his emblematic “stick-figure” of the seventies, most simple but overwhelming.

Breaking up is hard to do (1974-2006) is the title of one interesting piece in the exhibition. Starting with a photograph of a real dead body and ending with an extremely basic simplification of a head and a body, the artists tries to show the separation of the object from the subject in this sequence (chart) where he has compiled six works on paper from different years.

“Breaking up is hard to do”, shows the complex reality and visual universe explored by Mullican and his attempt to break it up into different areas of meaning. It also refers to the difficulty or impossibility of doing so, yet going on with the project regardless. As Allan MacCollum wrote: “The world Matt Mullican constructs through his art is complex, poignant, frightening, and sometimes wondrous — but no more so than any of the worlds each one of us constructs, from moment to moment, as we create "reality" for ourselves. The difference is that Mullican is able to translate the particulars of this intimate, deeply personal process into such a clear and communicable presentation that he not only constructs an ascertainable place for his private world in the realm of public discourse, but also proposes to deconstruct our own personal realities as he does so.”

Born in Santa Monica in 1951, Matt Mullican lives and works in New York. He received his BFA at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. Mullican has exhibited internationally since the 1970s. He showed at Documenta X, IX y VII (Kassel, 1997, 1992, 1982 respectively). He has had solo museum exhibitions at the Hishhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (1989), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1988), the Rijksmuseum Kröller Müller (1991), Wiener Secession (1994), the Nationale Galerie de Berlin (1995), Ivam, Centre del Carme (1995), Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (1997). In 2000, a major retrospective of his work, organized by the Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal, traveled to the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; La Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; Kunstverein St. Gallen, Switzerland; Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld; and Museion, Bolzano, Italy. Recently his work was shown Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2005) and at the Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz (2006).

Many thanks to: Cristina Guerra and Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisboa Victor Gisler and Mai 36, Zurich Cécile Barrault, Philip Nelson and Galerie Nelson, Paris Annie Hollingsworth, New York

only in german

Matt Mullican
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO