carter mull, theoretical children

At Fused Space, Jessica Silverman is pleased to present “Theoretical Children,” an exhibition of wall works, sculptures and a video by Carter Mull.

Carter Mull’s Untitled Social Subjects and Theoretical Children are images of social media personae that the artist has met at special invite nightclubs and after parties. These cotton-on-aluminum wall pieces, which combine painting, algorithmic rendering, photography and printing, sublimate lived experience and imagine friends as intricate abstractions. The works are punctuated by letterforms, plush shapes and short figurative passages and borrow structures from magazine layouts and other print media.

These scenes of contemporary social life are Mull’s 2015 version of Edouard Manet’s pictures of 19th century nightlife. Untitled Social Subject (Empathic Chic Boy, Chardonnay Roller Coaster, Cocker, Mr. Magoo), for example, refers to the multiple, virtual identities of youthful nighthawks who inhabit a demi-world that initially echoes the altered state, but is ultimately a far cry from, The Absinthe Drinker.

Mull begins making these works by sketching quick cartoons of the night’s key characters and social situations before he goes to bed. Days later in the studio, Mull uses Photoshop and inkjet printers together with paint and pens to develop his sketches and appropriate imagery. These drawings become the basis for the wall works, executed through a multi-step process that starts with the marbling of paper with oil and colored water. The marbled patterns remind of bound old-school books and also the liminal flow of an image coming into existence.

The exhibition also features Mull’s “Veils,” sculptural works that consist of tulle fabric over ready-made vases and fresh cut flowers, which are installed the day of the opening and left to wilt throughout the course of the show, acting like their own kind of chronometer. Flowers often commemorate or celebrate social relationships while veils, when worn by brides, mark the transition from one social identity to another. These sculptures bring Mull’s layered portraits into three-dimensions.

Mull’s new works meld the phantasmagoria of the contemporary social identity with novel methods and materials. Sensitive to the relationship between subjectivity and the times we inhabit, Mull’s artistic language, a kind of abstract social glue, engages people’s desire to connect and mark the time that binds them together.