Using a minimalist approach, Stefan Müller explores the depths of his paintings, though he often considers them finished at a very early point. The tiniest marks, seemingly random, sometimes suffice.
Stefan Müller work in a space bordered by abstraction, appropriation and a kind of deskilled approach to craft or handwork. A punk rock undercurrent tempers the seemingly simple, spiritual nature of the work and what looks like effortless markings and stains suggest in a coded vocabulary that art is a state of mind.
Combining raw burlap, fine and rough linens, fabric patches and suede with muted or bleached out colors and simple geometric forms, the homemade quality of these works is a refusal or glitch in the confident depersonalization that has dominated painting in recent years.
Müller’s painting is distinguished by a reduced choice of materials, motifs, and colors. He paints on untreated canvas, cotton fabric, or used fabrics such as bed sheets, which he exposes to accidental modification before and during the act of painting. Beer stains, ashes, dust, coffee, or blood often replace the conventional varnish. His palette of materials ranges from acrylic, transparent lacquers, oil, and silicone to markers, pencils, and crayons. He also integrates banal elements such as dirt, tissue paper, confetti, and glitter into his works.
In the pictures from the early 2000s, Stefan Müller is still palpably torn by the conflict between representational and abstract painting. Giraffes rambling across the canvas or a drum kit dissolve into abstract patterns of color. Yet Müller soon develops a formal vocabulary comprising circles, spheres, lines, and rectangular fields that pervade his work to this day. Curls become the I, circles represent the thoughts incessantly spinning in the artist’s head. Titles such as Total total Confusion, Aua, aua, armes Universum, Zu lange in die Sonne geschaut, and Empire of Dirt add another layer of meaning to these paintings.
Stefan Muller is a member of the bands Sud (with the artist Sergej Jensen) and Da Group, and has released a number of 7” singles, one LP (‘Sud & Sud II’), and with artist Michaela Meise, a limited edition CD ‘Songs of Nico’ (Neu Acoustics, 2006).
Sergej Jensen and Stefan has participated in group shows and in many ways share the same visual and artistic feel, look and process. They both studied together in Frankfurt Städelschule from 1996 to 2001 under professor Thomas Bayrle.
Below are some works mainly from 2006 up to 2010. I have a feeling we will see more to Stefan Müller the coming years. I am doing all I can to read, look and learn as much I can about him.
One of the best group shows the last 20 years – Sergej Jensen & Stefan Muller at Greene Naftali – SERGEJ JENSEN AND STEFAN MÜLLER – JANUARY 7 – FEBRUARY 8, 2003
Link to Gallery –