Bridget Mullen is the ruler of an unruly roost. Between 2021 and 2023, she gave birth to forty-seven paintings, each twelve-by-nine inches: kin ugly and cute, monstrous, fleshy, repulsive, droopy-eyed, and sneering as they cross the universal threshold into the no less frightening world that awaits. Birthday
reunites Mullen's uncanny litter alongside a conversation between the artist and Lucas Blalock
The paintings in New York-based artist Bridget Mullen's Birthday series utilize two distinct parameters to guide the creation of the iterative works: a vertical orientation at an intimate scale of 12 x 9 inches and a visualization of perhaps the ultimate creative act—the moment of birth. Through this consistent scale and thematic hyper focus, the artist employs endless formal variations in composition, color, and paint application. The result is a series of paintings that share a common structure yet champion individuality.
Contrasting colors provoke a visible tension, one that is at times compressed and, in other moments, elastic. Suddenly, abstract shapes come into focus as human anatomies, capable of expressing emotion. Undulating lines of various thicknesses and layered colors squeeze together, revealing peculiar faces and gestures that emerge from a central point. The repetition of thin lines creates a visual stutter of pigment, alluding to the passage of time or rapid movement.
The works in Birthday build on Mullen's practice, combining color, decisive mark-making, intuition, and experimentation to conjure psychedelic configurations. Sculptural dimensionality and flatness, representation and abstraction, and solidity and fluidity, serve not as dichotomies within these works, but as two complementary halves of a whole. Together, the forms and figures of the Birthday series are imbued with a sense of life, pregnant with agency and potential.
Bridget Mullen (born 1976 in Winona, Minnesota) is an American artist. Her paintings combine decisive mark-making with intuition and experimentation to conjure psychedelic compositions that oscillate between abstraction and figuration. Instead of sketching or initiating a painting with a concrete idea in mind, Mullen begins each piece with abstract marks, undulating lines, and a layering of color. Each formal development on the canvas informs the next until the totality of choices begins to evoke characteristics of a body—eyes appear and gaze lazily, hair and eyelashes unfurl, and arms and legs spring into motion.
The repetition of lines and a stutter of pigment are signature gestures in her practice, alluding to rapid movement or the passage of time. A visible tension between density and open space remains palpable regardless of composition, favoring exaggerated compression or an illusion of elastic expanse. Sculptural dimensionality and flatness, abstraction and representation, and solidity and fluidity are not oppositions within Mullen's practice, but rather complementary halves of an enigmatic whole.
Bridget Mullen holds an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and a BAE from Drake University. She has been awarded residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Headlands Center for the Arts, The Jan Van Eyck Academie, The Lighthouse Works, Roswell Artist-In-Residence Program, The Fine Arts Work Center, MacDowell, and Yaddo. She is the 2022 recipient of the Chiaro Award from Headlands Center for the Arts, a 2021 recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Painting Fellowship, and a 2017–2018 recipient of a studio from the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program. Mullen's work has been featured in Artforum
, The Brooklyn Rail, Juxtapoz, Maake Magazine, and ArtMaze. Her work, exhibited woldwide, is in the collections of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art in Roswell, NM, and the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, Long Beach, CA.