In the 1980s, when artists were seeking to reinvent a pictorial language of representation and signification, Mullican’s universe of idiosyncratic signs and icons was a big deal. His work resembled something Jorge Luis Borges could have invented, had Borges’s universal library been part of a visual artist’s encyclopedic oeuvre and had it intimated the virtual matrix of the present. Mullican looked back and predicted the future. He is now known for his self-hypnosis performances and trance drawings with relational aspects. Yet his schematic paintings of the ’80s still provide a key to his perceptions as well as to the over-determined digital world of today.
A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 121.