the familiarity of the images

Anyone who immerses himself in Jusha Mueller’s pictures by surrendering himself to what he consciously sees here can allow these structures to lead him into a level where the signs conceal no extrinsic meaning, but sharpen his senses for visual effects and for visual seeing per se. The play of expansive colored spaces, grand lines and detailed signs needn’t lead into a fantasized faraway realm, but can be part of a pathway toward discovery of our world’s visual reality.


When we view an artwork, reflexes of observation and habits of recognition continue to exert their influence, which every gaze outside the context of art would seem to confirm. We still tend to see pictures in terms of their figurative unity, just as we perceive each sign as though it indicates only one particular meaning, a sole predetermined significance.

Jusha Mueller’s structures keep both open. This repeatedly results in an open and undetermined play when they’re viewed. The specificity of the individual design leads the beholder to anticipate a certain meaning, but these expectations transform what he has seen into an enigma. The viewer expects to find something legible here, so his mind interprets these small figures or groups of figures as signs, letters and texts. But this interpretative agenda makes the text and the signs illegible, because the meaning refuses to divulge itself to a reading gaze. Just the opposite is the case: Jusha Mueller annuls the compulsion to read.

Prof. Dr. phil. Michael Bockemühl †
Professor of art history, aesthetics and art appreciation, University of Witten-Herdecke

 

the metaphysics of presence

The secret of Jusha Mueller’s artworks lies in the metaphysical presence of their visual contents. Rather than looking outside herself and seeking motifs in objective reality, this artist directs her authentic and uniquely personal gaze inward, where she discovers an unnamable “something” that leads a life of its own behind visible reality. She then chooses and creates specific colors and structures which cause this “something” to glow. Through color, line, form and rhythm, she creates a powerful presence of pictorial situations and visibly expresses an ineffable truth that eludes depiction.

Three immaterial motifs predominate in her pictures: space as an existential fact for human beings; light, which moves through infinite space in countless facets; and time, which is invisible but which perceptibly passes for us all. Light continually changes, so it can capture time’s passage like a seismograph in rhythmical brushstrokes.

She gives these brushstrokes different lengths and widths, are she arranges them alongside and beneath one another in irregular tempi to fill the entirety of the pictorial space. The technique and rhythm of these strokes virtuosically depict time’s objective and subjective passage. The rhythm of the irregularly arranged sequences of strokes and their often monochrome tonalities in the finest, almost undetectable gradations explore the light in the color and render it visible. These frequently paper-thin rods flow in an inconstant motion across the picture plane. In most of her artworks, these sticklike shapes are nearly the same color as their background, although contrastingly colored accents occasionally interrupt the chromatic uniformity.

Never statically monochrome, her chromatic spectrum approaches us as a moving substance. Its radiance fills the pictorial space, which seems unlimited. The signs that emerge from the depths of this space may come to us bearing a narrative ¬¬- or perhaps they speak only of the immeasurability of life and of things.

Gudrun Bouchard
Art historian and curator at Goethe Institute Munich

 

stroke sequences, color frequencies


The physically experiential reality of color must be the indispensable starting point for all thoughts about Jusha Mueller’s work. The lived experience of color and light, their intensity or obscurity, their nuances, interpenetration and bold presence, as well as the orchestra of their transitions, are physically effectual impressions in Jusha Mueller’s artworks.

Awareness of the effects of one’s own resonance, personal intervention in the experienced chromatic reality, the commencement of one’s own experiments and thus the attempt to gain access to a uniquely personal resonance space: all these self-explanatorily belong to the research project which this artist invites the viewer to join.

Jusha Mueller describes the two poles of her artistic work, i.e. inward experience and practical action: “Interior colors and mental images continually fluctuate and change, so I call them ’riff-raff’. ’riff-raff’ come and go as they please, and the order isn’t always the same as it once was.” She adds: “The bearing substrate is concealed behind color, form and sign. Color and form need support, structure and scaffold. They need ground, hold and anchorage, and not solely in the visible realm.”

Craftsmanly know-how must also participate in the practical realization, i.e. in the process of transferring the invisible onto a surface measuring many square meters in area. If one has not acquired these skills, one runs the risk of becoming disoriented and losing one’s overview. Jusha Mueller experiences this as “dancing on the picture”—with a two-meter-long brush as her dance partner. This leads to a extraordinary experience: while she works, the colored plane ceases to be opposite her as a vis-à-vis, and she immerses herself in the colors with her own moving body.

Tuned Lights is the name of a group of pictures that developed from a performance with a sonic artist. The realization of the painting process in sounds, augmented with feedback about the painting procedure through hearing and processing acoustic stimuli, peculiarly doubles the act of painting and temporally shifts the impulse. A second approach is to consciously process and reprocess a picture in numerous phases. This relationship is complex, exciting and twofold. On the one hand, there is concrete space, temporal experience and the mental image. On the other hand, there is the encounter between what takes shape there and the repetition of the starting situation.

Gisela Geiger
Curator and director of the Stadtmuseum Penzberg

 

concrete lines

Fortunately, the truly exciting developments on the contemporary art scene aren’t found only in the mainstream, i.e. in whatever the not-always-creative alliance of trend-setting gallerists, big collectors and predominant museum people momentarily regard as the latest trend. An interested aficionado will surely meet artists whose artworks cater to these fashions, but he’s especially delighted when he finds stimulating art off the beaten path of the art market’s so-called “blockbusters.”

When one views Jusha Mueller’s work, this welcome discovery occurs in remarkable way. Reference to Concrete Painting demarcates this phenomenon. Jusha Mueller’s artistic intentions transcend abstract painting per se and are more aptly described by concepts that Theo von Doesburg articulated when he wrote about Concrete Painting in 1924. “Nothing is more concrete and more real than a line, a color, a surface,” he declared. Jusha Mueller’s artworks ingeniously build upon and develop this assertion.

In 70 exhibitions and more than 25 art-at-architecture installations, she has surrendered herself to the spiritual exercise of creating what she calls an “immediate correspondence” between the viewer and the artwork. She explicitly states her goal: “It’s about time and light—the light of a place kindles a light in me….”

Bands of signs and networks of lines characterize and recur in the majority of her artworks. Applied in relief either in pigment, chalk or lead, they overlay the painted surface with a second graphic presentational stratum.  Like the abbreviations of a telegraph ticker, they thematize the passage of time, freeze it, or set it into eternal motion. As though these sequences of strokes in a clairvoyant artistic alphabet for the blind, she integrates her pictograms into the straight or oblique rectangle of colored panels. She discovers the colors of shadows through observation and afterwards “re-presents” them in her pictures. In these colored canvases, which are structured with overlaid bar-code compositions, Jusha Mueller abandons consensual reality and manifests a reality of her own. Her art reveals this new reality to its viewer.  

By treating panel painting as sculptural setting, Jusha Mueller explores the bandwidth of color in rectangles and squares that she newly formulates, elongates and stretches.  Her compositions for walls or spaces are combined so dynamically that the step from panel painting to art-at-architecture and installation seems inevitable.

With a virtuosity that could establish a new school of painting, she pursues this precisely calculated dialogue so unobtrusively and with such lightness that it genuinely challenges every artist who turns his attention to this type of architecture. The dialogue is articulated, for example, between the rectangles that the artist has applied and the inundation of rectangular forms in the façade and interior spaces at the Bavarian School of Administration in Holzhausen.

This artist is self-taught, which could well be the source of her integrity. Her interventions culminate in a monumental altar panel for Schondorf.… This twelve-part artwork unfurls numerological and liturgical symbolism in the composition of its stripes and thus achieves more than merely embodying Jusha Mueller’s ongoing effort to capture and play with light and its vibrations in space.…

Dr. Elmar Zorn
Art publicist, curator and university lecturer