New York

Stephen Mueller

Annina Nosei Gallery

First scenario: Stephen Mueller’s paintings are a reactionary reprise of lyrical abstraction, beautiful but enervated; glamour under glass, they are sustained by an exhaustive battery of cosmetics and prostheses (stain, impasto, hachure, scumbling, scribble) detached from conceptual or emotional moorings to become free-floating, painterly items, an inventory of stock. A wan attempt to keep up with fashion (two suggestions of Jedd Garet-like figures) seems sadly foolish and ill advised.

Second scenario: Mueller’s paintings are an act of protective coloration in the service of extended life. Hidden in the exuviae of an abandoned style is a revisionist effort to rescue abstraction from the tautological nightmare of a formalism it helped spawn. Or, to put it another way, this series recognizes that over time abstract painting has become paradoxically iconic insofar as its marks have turned

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