Carbon 12 proudly presents the first international solo exhibition of Philip Mueller. With overflowing energy and impressive technique, his paintings are a wild ride: with subjects from pop culture icons to belles-de-nuits, Icelandic shamans and the Adams Family, Mueller creates a symbolist universe where everything, anything can and will happen. Dionysus meets Jesus, cannibal monkeys on LSD, the content is as radical as the style: painted with finger on linoleum floor, poured all-over-style, masterly brush technique combined with excessive speed.
Mueller, in his early 20's, never chose the easy way. Rather than taking the usual route via art university, where in his own words "it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!", he is constantly travelling the world and collaborates with artists like Paul Renner, and the legendary Herman Nitsch. Yesterday Japan, tomorrow Morocco, today Dubai, between his studios opposite the Schönbrunn palace in Vienna and a sanctuary in Northern Italy, his paintings are born, rather than made. This is not a question of art, but a state of mind.
In this sense Mueller's body of work can be seen as mind-maps, not in the traditional sense, literally maps of mind: identifying borders, crossing borders, marking territory, expanding territory. The canvas becomes a battlefield of chance and composition, assemblage and association. Like alchemy, his paintings can be seen as ecstatic experiences and ritulas, a dialogue with the spirits, cathartic acts that unleash primary forces. The paintings develop a life on their own, the portraits begin to speak, a certain something comes into existence: a constant flux is felt, as if the canvas is shivering, vibrating, breathing.
The creative cycles of his cosmos of myths and allegories meander into multiple directions and epochs, The Bacchae of Euripides comes to life ("Agaue und Pentheus"), passages from the bible are hunted down par force (“Legion”), even Wolfgang Joop becomes his just deserts (“Salad Days”). Monkeys eating their master’s brain (“Gum Mountain I & II”), Owls bonding with people (“Napoleon”). The animalistic, the ecstatic and the taboo are recurrent themes, sometimes light-hearted, often dead serious. Evolutionary dead-ends, vicious cycles, Postmodernity collides with full force with Goya's Black Paintings.
Nevertheless, as expressive as Muellers paintings are, they also carry an introspective quality. Especially the series of puppets, a complex game of see or be seen enfolds, a spiralling look into the psychoanalytic abyss, a hide-and-seek in an eerie funhouse called painting. By subverting the common understanding of the portrait itself and combining it with an even more unusual painting technique, tradition is turned upside down, deconstructed, reinvented. In his mixed-media series of puppets, every single piece is carefully named, life breath into rags, stories told by materials. A truly beautiful approach to sculpture, because Mueller is able to destroy the static components, applying his technique of painting to three-dimensional, tactile installative works, never subjecting himself to the restrictions of form.
All the works have a common thread: They are able to preserve the traces of the strong performative presence: the playful approach to the material itself transform his oeuvre into historic artifacts, transmitted from parallel universes, imagined ages, trippy flashbacks, everything according to the motto: "eat when you can, sleep when you can; but life never takes a break".