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ANOTHER KIND OF LIGHT: THE ART OF STEPHEN MUELLER

Stephen Mueller’s art has taken a turn toward Buddha. His vividly hued elliptical and circular shapes hover and buzz in shimmering mists; their manner, while less regimented, recalls the multiples of Buddha’s beatific chubbiness that float so frontally on the flat and floreate ground of many Tibetan tanka paintings. Like those of Tibetan painters, Mueller’s animated apparitions of the last two years are at once stunningly present and utterly elusive—by turns cosmic, comic, mystic, and erotic. The question seems to be, Can you use any bliss today?

Mueller’s ongoing interest in Buddhist and Tantric art was reenforced and refocused by the most exhaustive exhibition of Tibetan art yet seen in New York, “Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet,” at the IBM Gallery in 1991. But Mueller has not renounced his painterly past: the phosphorescent chanting of his recent art is part of his

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