Simon Mullan will stage his first solo exhibition with PM/AM this spring, which opens on the 28th of April. For Die Fläche (The Surface), the artist will exhibit a collection of new ceramic, textile, sculptural and video works. The private view of this exhibition will be complimented by an opening talk on Tuesday the 26th April, where the artist will be in conversation with curator and art advisor Catherine Loewe.
Political, social and sexual themes run in concurrence within Mullan’s relationship to his audience and in equal measures, the viewer is confronted with work that challenges ideas of perception and disorientation. Some works dance with aesthetic harmony whilst others uncover cultural emotions. A deeper sense of play directed towards these collective subjects can be seen in his ongoing Alpha Series works, works that wholly comprise numerous nylon bomber jackets collected by the artist. Historically tied to the United States Air Force industry of the mid-twentieth century, these ‘flight jackets’ have throughout decades of popular use been reappropriated within different subcultures – assimilated by punks, skinheads, mods to neo-Nazis, the gay fetish scene and high-end fashion. As a source material, the artist stitches together patches of material taken from these jackets, creating both large- and small-scale quilt-like works. The delicate technique of quilting becomes explosively charged for Mullan, who through the process, the material used and the history that imbues it, creates an investigation into powerplay and confronts the validity and usefulness of hard power that we often associate with masculinity. Alongside these quilts we find Naked Bomber Jackets –the skinned jackets now relics of the subcultures which he explores, adopting these culture’s attributes as his own.
Paradigms of social class are examined elsewhere in the exhibition – with works under the title of Popularis. Fascinated by mechanical, industrial and construction skills, the artist transforms common bathroom ceramics into abstract wall art and sometimes alternative environments. The artist challenges the viewers preconceptions, collapsing concepts of high and low culture and blurring notions of class. Metalwork is also of interest to Simon Mullan, and for the first time we see the artist relinquish production of artwork to a third party. Inserted throughout the exhibition space, freestanding metal sculptures –an extension of the Popularis project into three dimensions– have been produced in collaboration with Wittmann Metallbau, an artisan metal workshop based in Vienna.
The artist has a significant history with performance and video works and Die Fläche includes the presentation of two single-channel video installations. Both works are further investigation into Mullan’s fascination with sub-cultures. Teaser introduces Wiktor, a Swedish underground club-goer who is otherworldly in appearance, an emblem of the chaotic splendor of the underground club scene and its metropolitan hubris. Filmed over the course of many hours in order to capture a short moment of Wiktor dancing in slow motion –the 45 second portrait drifts between still and moving image– a homage to the sense of abundance in contemporary culture. The artist turns to his own biography for A: Coffee Or Tea Darling? B: Cocoa You Cunt, where he uses his fathers accounts of bricklaying in London as influence. Toying with the energy and chaos of construction sites — a builder weightlessly juggles bricks, capturing the humour often pertinent in these environments.