At first glance, Mullen’s paintings appear purely abstract, but they reward closer examination by slowly revealing complex plays of figuration. Working circuitously over long stretches of time, she lets her repetitive, cartoonish figures unfold intuitively, responding to formal propositions instead of consciously building narratives. Like music, her paintings build their own internal logic through repetition and produce a sense of rhythm, agile and improvisational. Spectral, ambiguous forms migrate across the canvas, either as infinite patterns, like wallpaper, or with slight variation, implying animation; the temporal rhythm implicit in their repetition suggests an agency in the forms themselves. Entangled, cascading frenzies of hair, arms, fingers, and eyes weave together in impossible attempts to fuse multiple bodies into one, laying bare likeness, difference, and longing. Adjacent colors similar in value, figures that oscillate between capricious and melancholy, and layers that slip from foreground to background present wavering hierarchies that resist stasis or solidity, tapping into the irrational and referential registers of the psyche.
Alternating depth and flatness, and dancing back and forth across the threshold between abstraction and figuration, Mullen creates mutable, liminal spaces: neither here nor there, they resist interpretation yet generously draw the eye in, creating an expanse to enter and linger. Mullen consciously leaves passages in each work raw, almost unfinished—an open invitation to the viewer to participate in the painting’s becoming. The visual and the emotive connect tangibly in painting that continually rewards the act of looking.
Bridget Mullen holds an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and a BAE from Drake University. She has attended residencies at The Jan Van Eyck Academie, The Lighthouse Works, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Roswell Artist-In-Residence Program, The Fine Arts Work Center, VCCA, and Yaddo, and will attend MacDowell in the spring of 2019. Recent solo shows include Annet Gelink Gallery (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Satellite Contemporary (Las Vegas, NV) and recent group exhibitions include DC Moore (New York); Thierry Goldberg (New York); Kopeikin Gallery (Los Angeles); L21 (Mallorca, Spain); and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands). She was a 2017-2018 recipient of a studio from the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program and is a 2018-2019 participant in the Shandaken Paint School. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.