ZürichDaniel Mullen: Ephemeral Fields
“Field connotes a body or a realm, and ephemeral means a fleeting, transitory or a brief moment in time”, explains abstract painter Daniel Mullen, known for his play with geometrical optical illusion, spatial perspective and light, to refer to the multiple horizons in his present paintings. The body of work for the solo exhibition “Ephemeral Fields” by the Glasgow-born artist stems from the question “in what way might we imagine a future monument or the idea of a monument”. For the artist the monument of the future does not uphold existing structures. It is neither dominating, oppressive, predetermined nor physically definable. Instead it is light, space and movement expanding our perception in order to open our imagination to other futures.
In the series the eye tracks across an image or “between images”, registering different aspects of the pictorial fields. It is what he means by an ephemeral experience. “I wish to offer a transitory experience that is not necessarily definable, a birthing if you will”, explains the artist on the works painted over transparently primed linen that seeps through the translucent layering of paint into the illusionistic weightlessness of the abstracted forms.
A prominent part in Mullen’s work is his expert use of colour aiming to affect the perception of the viewer. For him, colour and laying the layers down is an almost alchemic sensorial experience. In the paintings the complex organization and meticulous execution of form and structure come into play to guide the viewer through relationships that are offered through illuminated hues and fleeting perspectives of aerial compositions. Are they thresholds? Portals? Space and weightless architecture remain present in the imaginative universe of the artist.
In his early works Mullen’s references were Neo-plasticism and “de stijl”, with artists such as Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg, most notably El Lissitzky and the Constructivism movement. In ”Ephemeral Fields” the pivotal inspirations are Hilma af Klint, Josef Albers and Bridget Riley along with the visual language of Swiss Emma Kunz, among others.
“Now when thinking about movements I would visually place my work somewhere between Geometric Abstraction and the Space and Light movement of California”, he acknowledges. “In my work I’m interested in phenomenology; to perceive something that is not present or at least that which seems undefinable, a space out of reach beyond our perception. Through the act of painting I try to channel this experience for another viewer beyond my own mind’s eye by seeking to render colour, form and light perceivable”.
By Cynthia Garcia
About the artist
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1985, abstract painter Daniel Mullen currently resides in Rotterdam. Graduated in 2011 from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Mullen has exhibited in London, Vancouver, New York, and recently participated in the Curitiba Bienal at the Oscar Niemeyer Museum. His career started from the natural passion architecture and spaces exert on him. The artist creates perspectives, toying with optical illusions, which come to place by combining pigmentation and geometry.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)