Klosterfelde is pleased to present Two into One becomes Three (2011), Matt Mullican’s fourth solo-show with the gallery, opening during this year’s Berlin Gallery Weekend. The work on view, comprised of 70 individual large-scale panels (oil-stick and acrylic on canvas), is featuring one of the artist’s signature techniques, the rubbing. While previously exhibited at the Centre Pompidou Metz in one piece commissioned for a specially dedicated grand museum wall, here, the entire gallery is being taken over by this visually compelling and almost overwhelming site-specific spatial installation.
In his body or work, spanning various media from drawing to installation and performance, Matt Mullican (American, born 1951, currently living and working in Berlin) deals with the perceptions of reality, the imaginary and the subconscious, and possibilities of its representation. For nearly four decades now, the artist aims to structure and organize, to grasp and explain life and the entire universe in all its aspects. It is the rich world of natural phenomena and human experiences, of the material up to the subconscious, he encyclopedically charts and visualizes in his very personal idea of a cosmology. He utilizes both found imagery as well as his own complex arsenal of images, signs and symbols. Literally everything is categorized according to the artist’s idiosyncratic color scheme: red – the subjective, black – language, green – the elements, blue – the world unframed or the subconscious, and yellow – the world framed or the arts and human knowledge.
Two into One becomes Three represents an homage to the ‚yellow world,’ the ‚world framed,’—to the arts as the recontextualized, the iconography, together with humanistic and scientific knowledge. Here, Mullican combines imagery directly taken from plates of the influential 18th-century volumes Encyclopédie and L’art d’écrire, edited by the French intellectual Denis Diderot in the era of Enlightenment (an early pharmacy, a historic roundhouse for the storage of train engines, examples of calligraphy, chemical charts, the world of animals, geology and the oral act of communication) in combination with the artist’s own pictograms (symbols for the elements, the subject, life and death, heaven and hell etc., and a demonstration of how a physical body successively becomes an image).
This installation is many things at once: print, honoring the rubbing as the most ancient way of reproducible media, drawing, painting, sculpture and architectural intervention. Different traditions and references come to mind, such as Ray and Charles Eames’ pioneering multi-media exhibition designs, the largeness and boldness of Pop Art paintings by Andy Warhol or James Rosenquist, Richard Serra’s massive architectural sculptures, or Bruce Nauman’s claustrophobic corridor pieces. The primal human impulse of leaving a mark, to decorate walls and architecture is being explored as well, from cave paintings to ancient Egypt up to today’s urban Graffiti scenes. Mullican himself sees his work as “very American—frontal, theatrical and big.” Thus, the exhibition becomes his very personal examination of the gallery space’s old-world character vs. the neutrality of the white cube.