Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to present Matt Mullican: Things Change in Heaven, curated by Christine Burgin. This exhibition, which marks the artist’s return to the LA gallery scene after a 25-year absence, features recent as well as historical work and continues the artist’s exploration of symbol as a provocative and visceral language. The exhibition features works in a wide variety of media including one of the artist’s iconic large scale banners, a new neon sculpture, works on paper, canvas, and glass, and a wall drawing created specifically for this exhibition.
Mullican’s work is built around an all-consuming determination to understand the world in which he exists; not an object-centric world of ideas but a picture-centric world informed by experiences. Much of his art-making process is rooted in his ability to ‘enter the picture’ and perceive an alternative emotional/physical narrative. Over the course of his lengthy career, the artist has evolved a unique system of visual codes to represent and re-configure a material world. Bold shapes in strong primary colors serve as existential demarcations of psychological territory, the symbolic representation of a proposed Mullican Cosmology. Each work defines a relationship between self and other, between the known and the unknowable. By repeatedly presenting and exploring his own intuitive visual language of signs -- in collage, drawing, frottage, painting, glass, digital renderings, performance and video -- Mullican challenges us to understand our own perceptions and to recalibrate what we see and who we are.
In describing the evolution of the imagery presented in this exhibition, the artist recalls his 1977 Hallwalls performance Going to Heaven:
“There's a ball. I am the center of the ball and the ball is all that exists, that is the known universe. And as my feelings changed the colors in the ball would change. If I was happy the world would turn yellow. If I was sad it would turn blue. What was happening was that there was a kind of a feedback between what I saw and what I felt. That was the end of the performance. It lasted about maybe two minutes and was finished. And that was really the beginning of the Heaven pictures…. The sign for Heaven is the target. A target which is the mind. What the mind does by itself, that is Heaven.”
Born and raised in Santa Monica, Matt Mullican is the son of artists Lee Mullican and Luchita Hurtado. He attended Cal Arts in the early 1970s, graduating with a BFA in 1974. With conceptual artists like John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger and Michael Asher in residence, Mullican developed a multi-disciplinary approach to the realization of his projects.
After graduation, ostensibly as part of the CalArts wing of the “Pictures Generation” (David Salle, James Welling, Jack Goldstein and Barbara Bloom were fellow West Coast practitioners), Mullican moved to NYC. It was there in 1976 at Artists Space that he premiered Going to Hell. In 1977 he followed this with the performance Going to Heaven at Hallwalls in Buffalo. The immersive technique he employed in both these performances – projecting himself inside his drawings – became a template for ongoing explorations. For Mullican, every performance and every work offers up new truths and the chance to test the acuity of the images he has created. Though his understanding of his own signs and symbols has evolved over the years, this system and the Cosmology they serve to represent remain central to all of Mullican's work.
Matt Mullican currently divides his time between studios in Berlin and New York.