Callicoon Fine Arts is very pleased to open 2014 with weather, an exhibition by Ulrike Müller. The weather: constantly changing, always in the news, and — as something that, collectively, we are subject to every day — a conversational medium for moods and psychic states. It might also be heard as “whether,” posing an indirect question, suggesting an alternative, something contingent on circumstances that it might just as easily loosen from itself, as in, “whether or not.” This homonym acts as a linguistic peg for the exhibition, inviting questions about the relationship between abstraction and context, the social meaning of forms, and the emancipatory potential of uncertainty.
The exhibition contains a group of vitreous enamel paintings on steel plates that continue Müller’s engagement with this medium. She employs a production process that has historically been used across cultures as a decorative art, but also by industry for the production of signs and utilitarian objects. Müller adopts this firing technique to produce images that repurpose a range of modernist vocabularies. The individual works are intimate in scale but irradiate their forms outward, decompressing contents embedded within and under the hard polish of their reflective surfaces. Often the image is determined with a vertical division of the space in half. While drawing the eye up and down, the vertical bifurcation further allows for the transposing of forms in any direction to tease out a representational logic. Other images rely on circles that telescope perspectively. In some cases, planet-like shapes pull the imagery toward more literal forms without however settling into depiction.
Ulrike Müller attended the Whitney Independent Study Program and the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. In addition to painting, her practice incorporates performance, publishing, and textiles. Müller has been a co-editor of the queer feminist journal LTTR and organized Herstory Inventory. 100 Feminist Drawings by 100 Artists, which was shown at the Brooklyn Museum in 2012. In this exhibition, drawings by fellow artists based on image descriptions culled from a list taking inventory of a collection of feminist t-shirts in the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope were displayed together with objects from the museum collection. A version of this project was shown at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria. Originally from Austria, Müller represented that country in the Cairo Biennial in 2010 with an exhibition of enamel paintings and quilts. Fever 103, Franza, and Quilts, a catalog of her work, was recently published by Dancing Foxes Press and a catalog on Herstory Inventory is forthcoming in Spring 2014. Concurrent with the exhibition at the gallery, her work is on view at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas, and included in the upcoming White Columns Annual, selected by Pati Hertling.
Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 6pm. Callicoon Fine Arts is located at 124 Forsyth Street, between Delancey and Broome Streets. The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex Street.