Thirty-seven works by one of South Carolina's most renowned artists will be presented in a pop-up exhibition at Sumter County Gallery of Art from Thursday through Nov. 10. Philip Mullen: Mostly New Work will be exhibited in conjunction with the gallery's Winter Party and Fine Art Raffle fundraiser on Nov. 9.
Mullen is regarded as an "artist's artist who celebrates the richness of the visual world." SCGA Director Karen Watson noted that his works in this exhibition vary greatly in size from 10 feet to 9-by-12 inches and that the subject matter comprises "interior still lifes: vases of flowers, cups, tabletops to exterior scenes, European villas, ponds of koi fish. The majority of work in this exhibition has been produced since Mullen's definitive mid-career retrospective at the Sumter County Gallery of Art in 2008."
Artist and critic Andy Reed wrote of Mullen's work, "Fluid, complex, abstract yet deeply rooted in the world of things experienced in a tactile way, Mullen's paintings are both carefully thought out and joyously carefree. Philip Mullen's art represents not an artistic simplification of visual reality but a voluptuous re-imagining and re-working of it, which prevents a viewer from taking them in all at once.
"The fine balance he consistently achieves is one of beguiling the viewer to 'work' at appreciating them while not making him feel coerced in any way while he does so. The success of Mr. Mullen's painting lies in how happily the viewer complies with this task. And the reward for doing so is ongoing: his paintings continually offer up new visual insights to note and luxuriate in, new visual experiences to enliven the eye and to provide repose for the mind. Mr. Mullen is engaged in the artistic endeavor at its purest and most primal: the lavishing of color on canvas."
Watson said "while Mullen's work continues to be characterized by a deft use of color, the recurring shutter motif and a feeling of both subtlety and boldness, he is exploring textural elements and effects as reflected in the hieroglyphics in the Emeline's Wall series and the use of materials such as tape and burlap to apply thick swaths of paint."
Distinguished professor emeritus of art at University of South Carolina, Mullen has had his work featured in numerous prestigious exhibitions, among them the Biennial of Contemporary Art; Whitney Museum; New York, New York's Solomon Guggenheim Museum; Biennial of Painting and Sculpture; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; National Drawing Exhibition; San Francisco Museum of Art, 21st National Print Exhibition; The Brooklyn Museum; a 35-Year Retrospective, McKissick Museum, Columbia (1995); and a Permanent Solo Exhibition, Koger Center for the Arts, Columbia. His work is in several important museum collections including Brooklyn Museum, The Guggenheim Museum, Denver Art Museum, Mint Museum, Smithsonian Institute and many others.
The Sumter County Gallery of Art, 200 Hasell St., is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call (803) 775-0543, or visit https://sumtergallery.com.