The appearance of exaggerated forms began prominently with the Romantics, a rebellion of imagery and style that has carried throughout the modern era. Not wanting to lecture about art history here but only trying to grasp an appropriate opener to begin discussing the works of contemporary painter Philip Meuller. There isn’t much info about him available – only that he is in his twenties and comes from Austria. And exaggeration of form isn’t the only thing to mention about his paintings; “Bambule im Gurkenglas” features in its center a oversized visceral heart but extending out to where veins and arteries would send blood pumping to and from extremities of the body, caricature heads form, one attired with dark glasses, another’s forehead and cheeks beam in yellow and pink splotches. The fleshy organ floats, lines of tropical fish swim past and outlines of large dogs standing on hind quarters flank the sides of the painting exposing their genitals. But the painting does not come off so much as surrealism or slightly expressionistic. It seems to hinge on more of a design-oriented hilarity then symbolism.
Meuller is getting a laugh and even taking jabs at himself; “Lunch” and “Die Schoene Meullerin” both feature juvenile vandalism of his central compositions, hinting at the artist’s own effort to mock his work or devalue it. Is self devaluation enough of a statement to move design into the field of fine art? Even though it can’t be pinned down, Meuller’s style is prominent and ranges broadly to inspire discussion. Most are spasmodically arranged and seem to be overflowing with content, allusions, concepts, religion and historicism;“Three Graces-The Workshop”, “Son of Dionysus and Jesus Christ in the Garden” and “Napoleon” comment on the influences of Classical art.
And as broad as the things included in Meuller’s paintings are the sensations they impart. “Bumfight” and “Don’t Cross the Shitline” may inspire a chuckle by their titles, but that turns to dread as the figures impart hideous glances and lurching postures or phantom animals loom up from the background. From gruesomeness to cartoonish, critical to nonsensical, darkness to uplifting, historical to absurd, the paintings radiate fully with Meuller’s style derived from collaging forms and concepts from everywhere.
-Howard Brad Halverson