Nature Morte | Olivia Fraser & Stephen Mueller : A New Context

1 February - 30 April 2022


For InTouch7, Nature Morte presents the work of two artists, one British and one American, who have been profoundly influenced by the visual arts, music, and philosophy of India. Both Olivia Fraser and Stephen Mueller have studied and absorbed the aesthetics and techniques of Indian art, fusing them with the traditions of abstraction that have been developed in painting in Europe and the United States since the beginning of the 20th Century, to create bodies of work that synthesise diverse languages into statements of energy, reflection, and beauty.

Olivia Fraser (b.1965, London) graduated with an MA in Modern Languages from Oxford, she spent a year at Wimbledon Art College before moving to India in 1989. In 2005, she decided to study the traditional Indian miniature painting techniques under Jaipuri and Delhi masters to now employ gem-like stone colours, its unique miniature brush work, and its elaborate decorative and burnished surfaces in her contemporary renditions. She is especially influenced by Nathdwara Pichwai painting and early 19th Century Jodhpuri paintings.

Born in Virginia, USA, Stephen Mueller (1947-2011) was an artist, writer and educator who lived and worked in New York. Mueller’s work reflect on his interests in spiritual and mythological ideologies and painting from the Indian subcontinent, specifically that of tantric Buddhism and Pahari miniatures. The works accommodate multiple modes of abstraction into a single canvas, charged with intense colours, and a style which defined Mueller as an iconoclast in the New York art scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. This style he continued to explore until his death in 2011 and the paintings in our exhibition are indicative of Mueller’s mature work and expansive approach to his sources and influences. The works employ polychromatic patterns and geometry, with elements suspended in space. Symmetry is colligated with ambiguity, hard- edged structures are superimposed on fluidity.

Both, Stephen Mueller and Olivia Fraser, explore the visual language of traditional Indian paintings, reaching back to archetypal iconographies rooted in the country’s artistic and cultural heritage that can breach borders and be relevant to a hybridized life between the East and the West.