Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present Moving Parts, a new exhibition by Ulrike Müller, her first solo show in New York City in almost five years. The presentation includes a group of monotypes and a wall painting that relates to The Conference of the Animals (A Mural) currently on view at the Queens Museum. The exhibition’s title points to the way aspects of this mural reappear at the gallery and also to how shapes and ideas shift and repeat in the monotypes and throughout Müller’s work.
In earlier exhibitions, Müller painted gallery walls using fields of color to draw attention to the relationships between individual works and to mold the architectural context into a space for her installations of enamel paintings and rugs. Now the painted wall becomes an artwork in its own right, engaging the political realm through histories of mural painting and public art. The role of animals in allegorical fiction such as Orwell’s Animal Farm and children’s literature like The Animals’ Conference by Erich Kästner as well as 1950s animal sculptures in Viennese socialist public housing projects serve as references. The gallery mural depicts two ambiguous, animal-like creatures across two walls of the gallery. One creature is supine, with closed eyes, while the other is alert, broaching a corner, as if about to nudge the sleeper awake. Painted using colors and techniques designed for domestic interiors, Müller’s creatures uncannily hover between the sweetly familiar and the unsettlingly abstract.
Shown alongside the mural are a group of monotypes completed over the last few months. Context, collaboration, and process converge in various ways across these playful prints. The iterative nature of the monotype process captures gesture, allows for improvisation and for the emergence of imagery that, at points, even suggests narrative. In Going Outside (2020), arching strokes of the brush create the outline of the hindquarters of a puppy-looking being that leads the way. Against a pink expanse that’s splattered with paint, two squares on either end of the creature imply perspective, suggesting that this creature is on its way out of the frame, going outside. In the exhibition’s title piece, Moving Parts (2021), shapes cut from lacy screens interface with brushstrokes in a color-rich assemblage that can be perceived as a creature moving towards the viewer, reversing the dynamic of Going Outside, panting with its tongue on display.
Müller’s Moving Parts vigorously questions commonly held distinctions between figuration and abstraction, animal and human, child and adult, cultural constructs used to create meaning and value; while also welcoming the viewer into its engaging designs and images.
Ulrike Müller (b. 1971, Austria) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria, and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, New York. A large mural titled The Conference of Animals, is on view at The Queens Museum, New York, through August 2021. Other solo exhibitions include those at The Galleries at Moore, Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia (2019), Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2018), mumok - Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig Vien, Vienna (2015), Callicoon Fine Arts, New York (2016), and the Brooklyn Museum (2012). Her work has been included in many significant group exhibitions such as The Venice Biennale (2019),The Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg (2018), Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon at the New Museum, New York, and The Whitney Biennial (2017). She is the editor of Work the Room. A Handbook on Performance Strategies (OE/b_books, 2006), she organized and co-edited Herstory Inventory. 100 Feminist Drawings by 100 Artists (Dancing Foxes Press, 2014), and from 2005-2008 was a co-editor of the queer feminist art journal LTTR.