Galeria Fortes Vilaça is pleased to present new paintings and drawings by Dutch artist Gerben Mulder. This is his third solo show at the gallery. This series takes a more lyrical path, exploring elements of abstraction. Even though these works have a figurative nature, they are far removed from realist representation.
Throughout his career, Mulder has developed a body of work that establishes a dialogue with a tradition of European painting, which spans from Velázquez’s children to the distorted figures of Edward Munch. With an iridescent palette, his portraits – and more recently his flowers vases and still-life – emphasize psychological aspects (melancholy and euphoria) and a subjective dimension of the images. New York Times art critic Roberta Smith situates this most recent production in the gap between Raoul Dufy and Jackson Pollock. That is, between an essentially figurative painting with traditional themes on the one hand, and abstract expressionism on the other.
His new works radically emphasize the materiality of painting, being conceived in a physical way. The gesture is strikingly wide, quick, and omnipresent. The canvases are dominated by a reduced palette of colors in blue and gray tones, which create a more introspective atmosphere, as Heinrich Heine penned the words in “The Lorelei” or Goethe in “Nearness of the Beloved One”, these paintings strike out in longing…yearning for something far away, but reaching through mark and stroke to bring that which is longed for near. The spiral brush strokes, graphic-like, retro modernist mark-making bring a contemporary edge to this genre. The vases of flowers, merely suggested in some canvases, are completely missing from others.
In the drawings the emphasis also falls on gesture and quickness combined with strategies of subtle composition. Unlike what happens in the paintings, here there are no masses of color, but only the calligraphy that gives them movement. The intense and evident dialogue with abstract expressionism situates Mulder among contemporary painters who work with this legacy.