fine art printmaking

new editions

Matt Mullican


b: 1951, Santa Monica, California


lives and works in Berlin



The level of reality in which we move, in which we think, feel and act is a colourful mosaic of subjective perceptions and perspectives. As the conceptual basis for Matt Mullican's multi-faceted practice, this idea has continually expanded to create a vast and complex theoretical construct.


SUBJECTS, published by Keystone Editions, continues Mullican's investigation of the relationship between subjective outlooks and objects of the real world. As the artist's first lithographic work, this series is a new facet of his versatile repertoire of media and techniques. In over four decades of exploration, he has elaborated a kind of cosmology; a system of understanding that brings an explicitly personal order to the jumble that is everyday existence. This is the point around which his entire œuvre revolves, be it in sculpture, drawings, rubbings, performances, videos, posters, flags or now also in lithography.


Mullican structures his personal relation to the world by dividing his subjective perceptions into individual stages; these awarenesses are then systematically arranged on separate “Charts”. His works reference and juxtapose each other as if every component were a part of a single, all-encompassing installation. The images in SUBJECTS incorporate Mullican's signature colour scheme and his extensive lexicon of both invented and appropriated symbols. The five levels of consciousness in which he classifies the relationship to the outside world are represented in images 1 through 5; images 6 through 10 expand on these ideas through the lens of subjectivity.


Image 1, SUBJECT, describes the subjective as the primary instance of assimilating and ordering reality. The yellow eyeglass shape of the sixth image, FIRST PERSON, further emphasises the personal perspective via a subjectively omnipotent form of the self.


Departing from the internal level, SIGN introduces the realm of the symbolic. The black colour and the spot encompassed by the square represent the language that defines worldly objects. The 7th image, SECOND PERSON correlates by symbolising the relationship of subjective experience to language-based understanding.


The yellow sphere is the WORLD FRAMED, and is encompassed by the other four planes, and represents abstract thought; the stuff of art and science. Conversely, in THIRD PERSON concrete thought becomes the vehicle for expanding beyond both the individual self and purely linguistic interpretation.


The WORLD UNFRAMED describes everyday life, so enriched with the things and images that are taken for granted. In contrast, on an internal level, VISCERAL FEELING illustrates pure, unconscious and unconditioned feeling.


The symmetrically arranged circles on the green surface of ELEMENTS symbolise the Material, the objective, defined by the absence of meaning. A parallel absence is represented by NO FEELING, a new element in Mullican's cosmology. Not only is this a reference to a lack of emotion but also to an inherent awareness that in every observed feeling lies the potential for a total absence of feeling.


With the introduction of a new element and its associated symbol this series makes a formal reference to Mullican's work from the late 1970s. It was during that time that he developed his principal motifs, which were combined with his name and the respective designations before, in 1982, abandoning text in his imagery. The appearance of text returns in SUBJECTS, this time drawn with graphite, so that the slight imperfections from the artist's hand create a stark contrast to the clean lines of the prints. The font was developed by Mullican himself; the strict geometric system upon which it is based gives the type its unusual appearance. This time within the realm of formal considerations, the domain of the individual encounters once again that of the objective.






Text: Ferial Nadja Karrasch


Translation from the German: Sarah Dudley

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