60 x 90 cm
Acrylic on cotton on chipboard
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Part 3 of "Entwurf Nr. 2287, Bild Nr. 527"
Emil Müller (born in 1934 in Pfäffikon, Zurich, Switzerland) has an artistic voice that is both quiet and powerful. Thanks to his training as a graphic designer, during which he also studied the special technique of Photochrom print, and his fascination with the pioneers of color interaction, he was inspired early on to develop a color-sensitive approach. He expressed this in his early organic and abstract painting style, later incorporating influences from Tachisme. In 1970, he began to radically reduce his pictorial means and to write his name müller-emil. e created works with a symmetrical order of strong vertical and horizontal stripes of color, which he sometimes highlighted as three-dimensional elements by installing bars behind the canvas. These were then followed from 1980 on by striped works that began showing a more delicate coloration. In 1982, these were in turn gradually replaced by compositions of subdued contrasts that emphasize the edges and corners of the paintings. At the end of the 1980s, he began producing more and more multipart pictorial panels and painted objects with a rhythmical arrangement of monochrome pictorial elements in two, maximum three colors.
This use of color, which often pushes the limits of our perception, continues to dominate his work up to today, as does an intensive reflection on color theories and the development of his own subtly graded color circles. His affinity for a rational and concrete way of thinking are obvious in certain aspects – for example, in how he systematically notes the color mixtures on the back of his paintings, how he thinks about color quantities, and how imposes a set of rules, according to which the color values he uses in his color circles must relate to each other in a certain way. Even more characteristic for his art is its almost lyrical quality that not only teaches us how to see (müller-emil worked as a teacher at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Zurich from 1965–1995), but also encourages us to behold it in a concentrated, even contemplative way. The contrast inherent to color between pigments and light, between materiality and immateriality, dissolves and is replaced by a pure color experience or color space. Similar to the concept of “spazio luce,” which Antonio Calderara began exploring in 1959, this results in an artistic approach that may best be described as metaphysical concretion, letting us take part in what Gottfried Honegger once referred to as müller-emil’s talent for teaching colors to stay together and hold still.