Stephen Mueller, ‘Untitled’, 2002, Lennon, Weinberg

About Stephen Mueller

In his vivid, light-filled paintings, Stephen Mueller combined the pure abstraction of 1960s Color Field painting with a lively assortment of patterns and motifs drawn from tantric art, Indian and Persian miniatures, Mexican ceramics, and cartoons, concocting playful compositions that presaged the re-incorporation of imagery into abstract painting. Works like Riparian Reveal (2006) exemplify his exquisite command of color, atypical compositions, and playful combinations of references and allusions. Against a soft, hazy background of bright blues, yellows, and streaks of scarlet, five distinct shapes hover: two ovoid forms, a striped form resembling a Buddhist stupa, a swimming pool-blue rectangle, and an ambiguous shape that, among many possibilities, seems to resemble a leaf, a Buddha head, or a jeweled pendant. Like all of his work, Riparian Reveal is at once buoyant and refined, deeply mystical and sharply humorous.

American, 1947-2011, Norfolk, Virginia