Nicolas Muller, Solo show
January 30th - February 27th 2016
‘Scaphandre’ is Nicolas Muller’s first solo exhibition at Galerie Maubert. As a title, this single word alludes to the image of a diving suit, impermeable and protective, as well as to that of antiquated body armor, heavy, cumbersome, with a metal grille through which to discover uncharted, subaquatic places. The diver’s frantic astonishment as he delves into virgin territory is a contrast to the restrictiveness of the suit he must don. The physical inertia of gesture and displacement, in addition to a diminished field of vision, counter the immensity of the ocean’s depths, bringing man face-to-face with his own physical limits.
Nicolas Muller drew from an authoritarian approach in addition to a succession of constraints when creating these artworks. Free-standing forms, painted onto large sheets of paper, with dimensions in rigorous adherence to geometry, subsist and persist. A series of degraded roadside waste objects preside, damaged, while supported upon a concrete base. Further on, Muller shows a video projection of a rural landscape he filmed while astride the wire-meshed, concrete wall surrounding a detention center.
The notions of perimeter, wandering, and exploration emerge as common ties between Muller’s pieces. Our eyes are imposed upon by drawings, lines and outlines, whether a brush stroke on paper, the course of a walking path determined by prison wall architecture, or a crumpled road post, bent to create an oblique line within the exhibition space.
From a simple sheet of paper to standing architecture, Nicolas Muller conquers the realm of drawing by ceaselessly reenacting the duel between the rigor of lines, and the liberty of free motion. It all emerges when there’s a sense of play, when, to speak in mechanics’ terms, the nuts and bolts are a bit loose, or some of the rules can be bent.
Liberation from the conventional framework can appear to originally arise from heedless mishap rather than deliberate intent; more of a human misstep than silent revolt. This is Nicolas Muller’s method for diverting minimalism with some humorous undertones. It is through repetition, not to say obstinacy, that he constructs a dicey yet weighty allegory of the crucial choices to be made within the realm of esthetics all by way of the creative act itself.
– extract of Julie Portier, “Nicolas Muller’s Escape Plan” (Le plan d’évasion de Nicolas Muller), 2015, published in Le Quotidien de l’Art, n°847.