Aesthetic Arrest

Selected works by Mario Muller

Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your submission.
Mario Muller: This body of work is all about Los Angeles. I moved here in 2005 and was immediately struck by the quality of the light. The lack of humidity in this desert climate creates a light that is as sharp as a scalpel. Because the light can be so all consuming, a lot of attention is paid to blocking the light out of the home. All manner of blinds (horizontal and vertical), shades and treatments adorn the windows of LA. Nature and Urbanity co-exist in remarkable harmony here as well, and that’s why you’ll see chain link fences as well as bamboo leaves.

AM: What is your biggest inspiration?
MM: Light–plain and simple. My work has always been about form rather than feature. I work in that playful space between shadow and silhouette. My iconography is the urban experience as seen from a pedestrian perspective.

AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
MM: Well, it’s my adoptive home, and as such, my affection for this city plays a pivotal role in my art. I choose my subjects by my familiarity with them. I’ve been here ten years now, and I feel like I have just scratched the surface of its onion-like layers. I can tell you that the more I witness the more I love this city. Urban images have always played a big part in my art. Los Angeles has added an aspect of natural flora and fauna that didn’t exist in my work before when I lived in Bushwick.

AM: All of your paintings are done in India ink on paper. Can you tell us a bit about your process?
MM: 'Round about 1999, I chose India Ink as my primary medium. It’s a lightfast medium that captures the purity of my chosen iconography. If my images are shadows and silhouettes, in essence I’m painting the lack of light. India Ink is perfect for depicting that blackness. That having been said, India Ink is an unforgiving medium to work with. There’s no erasing. I never paint white so all the white/light that you see in my paintings is the white of the paper. I’ve been 30-40 hours into a piece and made a mistake, and I’ve had to start all over.
       My method comprises a four-step process. First, there is photography. I'm constantly harvesting images with my camera and my cell. Second, I select images and manipulate them, often combining several into a single composition. Third, I draw the composition in a light 4H pencil. Lastly, I ink the image.

Check out Mario's process for yourself:


AM: We notice you paint a wide range of subjects including geometric patterns, architecture and nature. What is your favorite LA subject to paint?
MM: I guess the geometry that I’m drawn to comes out of the architectural flourishes so prevalent in LA. There’s also an inherent geometry and pattern of nature. And sometimes those overlap.

AM: What music is currently inspiring you?
MM: I listen to a lot of Parliament Funkadelic. I guess I’m old school. George Clinton, Isaac Hayes, Bootsy Collins, Ohio Players, Rose Royce and The Brothers Johnson. The bass lines of Nile Rogers make me swoon. Lady Gaga’s cover of Rogers’ I Want Your Love is like an anthem for me right now. I think it’s only available as the Tom Ford Video she did it for. But my passion for funk is matched with a love for George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington. I make unusual playlists.

AM: What can we expect to see from you next?
MM: I’m often asked by collectors which piece or series of mine is my favorite and the answer always is the one that I haven’t done yet.
      That’s a good question. I’m still working the veins of some very rich productive series –Titans and Epiphany, but I have recently become obsessed by Old Hollywood and the stars of yesteryear. I’ve started to collect B&W headshots. While I’m not just yet ready to release or reveal what I’ve been working on with them, it’s been very productive and creative.

Mario Muller is an LA-based contemporary artist focusing on light, shape, pattern and texture. His work has been showcased at the Mary Ryan Gallery in NYC, as well as the Rudolph Blume Fine Art Gallery in Houston. You can find more of his work at You can also purchase prints, apparel and other awesome goods with his work on it at his online shop.

"I suffer from daily attacks of Aesthetic Arrest. You know, when something is so perfect that your knees get weak and your lungs forget to breathe." -Mario Muller

Posted on April 21, 2016 .