Persian Garden
Under this title Borzo presents recent work by Marc Mulders: paintings, glass installations, watercolours and cut paper masks. Marc Mulders' move from the city of Tilburg to the tranquillity of the Baest estate has had a huge impact on his work. The first changes in relation to the paintings created in the Tilburg studio were already seen in ‘Geheim Landschap’ ('Secret Landscape') in 2010.

Open the gates
In the town studio the flowers were taken indoors in order to serve as motif for the painting. At De Baest Mulders is surrounded by flowers, they no longer have to be picked and brought inside, he merely has to throw his studio gates open and the motif is in reach. What remains is the flower, but now as part of the field, the meadow, in a 'Secret Landscape' as Mulders experiences this reality in his new surroundings. And these surroundings continue to challenge the artist, even to the extent that the flower appears to be disappearing in his paintings. The flower meadow becomes an almost geometric plane, the landscape an abstract composition. 

In his own words: The earlier paintings with their flowers painted ‘all over’ have been exchanged for more abstract canvases, which may still look ‘flowery’ but no longer display the identifiable flower. The flower as an object has dissolved into the mist, into the haze, into the backlight. All of these are also atmospheres that I come across when rooting around the countryside here on the estate; the motif is no longer in front of me, but all around….

I used to see the flower as ‘the’ object, now I see the flower as a prop in a larger natural setting. And this setting demands a more architectural vision to paint it. No more starting painting from the middle and stopping just before the edges, as if the canvas contains only one room, but the other way round now starting at the edges of the canvas and utilizing the space, creating several rooms. I thus conduct the flower meadow or the waterside in a ‘Mondrianesque’ arrangement of horizontals: the water surface and the horizon lines – and of verticals: the straw stalk, the flower stem, the row of trees. Nature's architecture with all its various rooms, dew, haze, sunshine, backlight, that I walk into here on the Baest estate. This is now the leitmotiv.

Changes and inspirators
At the long table in his farmhouse we speak of the changes in his life as an artist. Marc makes no attempt to hide his admiration for various fellow-painters. He calls them ‘Inspirators’: Monet, De Kooning, Frankenthaler, Reinhardt, Marden, Ryman, Kelly, Grotjahn and also recently Arshile Gorky. Did you know, he says, that at the end of his life (late nineteen-forties) Gorky moved from New York to Long Island? This move was one of the reasons for the late revival in his art. Outside the city Gorky immersed himself in the transcendental, sensual enjoyment of nature. Gorky’s example likewise reinforced De Kooning in his decision to leave the city and look for reinvigoration out of town.

It is evident that Marc Mulders feels himself supported historically by the step both ‘inspirators’ took before him in swapping the city for the countryside.

Painting on glass
Over the years Marc Mulders has painted on glass many times. He has made ten or so monumental windows, including in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, the Catharijneconvent in Utrecht and the Sint Janskathedraal in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Besides creating numerous large and smaller enamel paintings on glass bowls and glass panels. The exhibition Mapping out Paradise in Museum de Pont in Tilburg was impressive in 2008. Many square metres of the museum's floor were covered with glass panels and huge felt ‘voiles’ by Claudy Jongstra were suspended from the roof. This spring Marc curated his own exhibition in Kunstcentrum Marres in Maastricht, where two large ‘rose windows’ caused a great sensation. Mulders used the content of these to respond to developments he had noticed. A combination of painted glass bowls and magazine images cut up into ornamentation present the artist's comments. This impressive glass installation will be taking up the majority of the space in the back room at Borzo.

Giotto, Persia and Alhambra
Painting on glass with enamel paint is particularly demanding for an artist, however it also opens up new possibilities. The painter cannot get too bound up in the realistic depiction of a subject; the technique makes this almost impossible. On the other hand this better allows him to make use of a more abstract visual language, of ornamentation. Mulders has found the study of mediaeval miniature paintings and frescos to be a great help in this. He has likewise discovered Persian miniature art with its wealth of ornamentation, one of the exceptional qualities of Islamic art. He also refers to the Moorish landscape architecture of the Alhambra in Granada for instance. 

The amazing partition of space in the really limited rectangle for the manuscripts in Persian miniature painting, this partition of rooms, of garden segments, of decoration in the Koran, within a rectangle can only be equalled in Western Art in Giotto's frescos or in Jean Duc de Berry's miniatures.

The various means that Marc Mulders uses to express himself come together in this exhibition under the title of Persian Garden. Figurative elements such as the flower and the landscape have here been abstracted under the influence of all these impressions, arguments and examples. Marc Mulders’ presents us with his rich and intrinsically significant visual language in the form of glass panels and bowls, clippings collages and masks and – naturally – five large paintings.

Paul van Rosmalen, Amsterdam, September 2012