Howard Scott Gallery is pleased to announce the fourth exhibition - on Thursday, October 4 - by the Scottish-born, New York-based artist John Mullen.
In this new group of paintings, Mullen continues to rub abstraction up against representation. Washes, stains, scrapings and a wide range of opacities coalesce to produce disquieting otherworldly vistas and scenarios.
Mullen has chosen to title his new group of work Field Guide, which is defined as "a guidebook describing natural objects that might be encountered in the field." But in his work, the "objects" are neither ordinary nor familiar. Amorphous, large negative elements stand deep in the white-washed horizon, which, in one painting is slashed with jagged white lines—evoking radiated beams of light—and in another with bold black strokes that suggest a post-industrial landscape. Stark blocks of heavily applied paint—hexagonal, rectangular, circular, saw-like—jut out of the muted field, forebodingly. Each painting evokes an imminent event to which the viewer suddenly becomes an unwitting witness.
Mullen's work has been previously described as "sensual and cerebral," and he has been said to "reveal a heightened expressive involvement with painting that goes beneath the surface of the real." He has been compared to artists from Sigmar Polke and Albert Oehlen to Franz Akermann. And yet his multi-layered abstractions—for which he creates his own colors from an acrylic base emulsion and employs self-devised tools for scraping and spreading—"pull us," as one reviewer remarked, "into their own intricacies." Chaotic and orderly, evocative and atmospheric, Mullen's new group of work defies pat readings. It's a "Field Guide" to his own mindscape, a place of wondrous collisions of line and form.
Mullen was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was educated in London, where he received a BA in Fine Art from Central St Martins (1984), and a BA in Philosophy from Birbeck College (1989). His work was first shown in London in 1983. Since 1994, he has been living and working in New York City. His paintings have appeared in several group shows in New York and his solo exhibitions at the gallery have been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, The New York Observer, Flash Art and Review.