Complexities of Union

July 14th through August 11th, 2007
Opening Reception: July 14th, 5-7pm

Tarryn Teresa Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by emerging artist Colleen Mulligan.  

Intentionally manipulating and distorting reality, Mulligan creates sexually charged images of folding flesh.  Purposely non-representational, yet never abstract, these intertwining, organic configurations examine the nature of human relationships. Through a process Mulligan describes as a natural evolution, she creates imaginative bodies that evoke a sense of intimacy and at times uneasiness. In the act of obscuring and morphing reality, Mulligan creates an experience for the viewer that is both as complex and contradictory as a relationship itself. 

As the viewer takes time over a painting, there is a certain trompe l’oeil that begins to take effect.  The folds of flesh bulge out of the canvas, creating a visible space beneath them. This brings the folds to life and pushes them out of the underlying void.  As a result, the works simultaneously possess both the qualities of protrusion and recession – a technique carefully conceived by the artist to further confront the viewer with the subject matter.

Flesh tones in varying stages of intensity are used to illustrate the complexity of repulsion and attraction contained within intimacy. Furthermore, Mulligan’s interchanging use of both bold and muted colors, and in some works, no color at all, speak of flesh in its various stages of life. Much like a relationship from its inception to its end, her use of color helps to mimic these stages. Whilst in Paroxysm 2007, the use of purple points to bruising - the most present and palpable of pains - the grays in her black and white paintings implicate skin that is cold and devoid of life.  These pieces can therefore be seen as more of a natural evolution or “ending”.

These monumental pieces are universal in their ability to impart an intensity of emotion, familiarity, and sensuality.  Mulligan’s paintings are scaled at a minimum of four feet in order to consume the viewer, whereas her drawings, only inches in size, force the viewer to look closely and examine details that can only be perceived upon close inspection. Although they explore the same themes as Mulligan’s paintings, the drawings can be understood as moods - an ephemeral moment where the emotion of a particular event or memory is felt and translated on paper.

Both paintings and drawings transcend spoken language into a communication that is understood by having human sensibilities and sensations. The ability to derive both physical and emotional pleasure and pain from the sensation of touch is something with which Mulligan is particularly concerned. The viewer finds hints at openings and vulnerability – even visible wounds.

The ultimate ambiguity posed in Mulligan’s work, however, forces the individual to draw their own conclusions. These complexities of union are ultimately inspired by the joining of two beings - an experience that intrinsically brings about a litany of incongruities. The inherent beauty and ugliness that is found within raw, transparent truth is the basis of these explorations – a place where attraction meets repulsion and skin starts to become both a physical and metaphorical encasement for the underlying tensions and confrontations associated with life itself.

About the Artist

Colleen Mulligan is originally from New York City where she attended Pratt Institute and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2002. In addition to her education in the U.S., Mulligan has studied in the cities of Venice and Amsterdam.  She has exhibited in the United States and in Europe, where her work is held in private collections. In 2005, Mulligan was invited to participate in the Florence Biennale, which featured honorary guest artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and where she also received an award for her painting.

For further information, please contact the gallery.