Behind the Ochre Curtain lies illusionary and anonymous images in a show of magical creations of unexpected hybrid creatures and dark mythological drawings created by artist Craig Müller. You need no skills, no fancy finger-work, no hidden mirrors, threads, trap-doors or stooges but are invited to look into the artist’s drawings of fable mechanical figures and flying creatures that seem childlike and humorous at first glance but upon deeper inspection, offer something darker that lies behind them
Müller’s show at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery moves beyond his playful sculptures and offers large-scale painterly drawings that tackle underlying personal issues as well as societal concerns and environmental aspects. Müller makes use of dramatic lighting and colours adding a theatrical element that draws the viewer in. One experiences drawings of bizarre creations that are between human and machine hybrids that spark the human imagination.
Müller studied Fine Art at Tshwane University of Technology and is now known chiefly as an established sculptor working in three-dimensional mechanical works in steel. He has been occupied mainly with commission work involving decorative installations, exclusive furniture and sculpture for private residences up until 2008. His works are also represented in various private collections.
He has exhibited work at various art galleries which include many group shows in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town. In September 2010, he featured with other prominent South African artists for the conservation of the environment. He was also a featured artist alongside Diek Grobler at the 2012 Innibosfees art festival in Nelspruit. He has had two solo events at the Tina Skukan Gallery and the Pretoria Association of Arts Gallery respectively.
MRI hidden camera, the Vagus nerve bypass and unutterable truth
Ink and acrylic on board (84 x 60cm)
In this show, Müller experiments in a new direction of two-dimensional works. The works contain a strong inherent sculptural quality giving the works a three-dimensional and geometric quality. The artist takes the role of a crazy inventor conceiving new creatures and situations in almost a surrealist way. The scenarios Müller creates are almost believable to the viewer – a flying blue whale, mechanized figures – that spark the imagination. The line drawings are cut together in their drawability into subjects and concepts mythological or historic; imagined and simultaneously probable in their physical form. He states that he has an inherent curiosity about how machines can be animal as well as mechanical and describes his love for how things work.
Müller uses these humorous images in combination with satire and wit to express issues in today’s changing society. He questions our abuse of nature and wildlife through global warming, the industrial plethora of machinery engulfing our society, our treatment of women and children in a society controlled by violence and crime. Our actions has repercussions through various spheres of society where Müller predicts an ending to our perceived world.
The exhibition runs from 5 to 26 June 2013. The artist hosts a walkabout at the gallery on Saturday 22 June 2013 at 10:30.