A fine line distinguishes art and architecture. 

Both follow the same foundations of principles and elements as they engage a user’s senses identically. Architecture is an interactive space, while art is an interactive piece. Combining the two is another dimension filled with unseen wonders. Incomprehensible reasons and indescribable deeds are a few of the outcomes. Many have embarked on the journey of discovering the possibilities of architecture inspired by existing art and viz a vis. 

Daniel Mullen is a genius artist who creates abstract masterpieces. Blurring the difference between art and architecture looks so effortless on his canvas but the process is far more intricate. Based in Rotterdam, this Scottish painter is rising to fame for raw talent just like his canvas. The uniqueness in his style starts from how he prepares his canvas. 

He uses six layers of acrylic binder on linen for a smoother surface. This accentuates the sharp lines and saturated colours Daniel Mullen plays with. Daniel has participated in many exhibitions showcasing different series of artworks.

Ephemeral Fields | Daniel Mullen

Daniel Mullen’s most recent project, “Ephemeral Fields” was held at Kogan Amaro, Zürich. “Field connotes a body or a realm, and ephemeral means a fleeting, transitory or a brief moment in time”, says the artist. He communicates an idea of what future architecture could hold. 

Nothing like the pre-existing models of rigidity but flexible ones that play with light, space and the user’s perception of it. As one walks across the gallery registering different hues cut by the strong white lines they experience what Daniel means by a fleeting moment in time. What’s interesting is the encounter with the art or the experience may be ephemeral, but the impact is lasting. This is very similar to architecture. The architect himself may see his work for a few decades but his work can last lifetimes.

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Unintentional space

This could be one of Daniel Mullen’s first projects. Held in Amsterdam, 2013. That’s two years after Daniel Mullen graduated and a step into a sequence of exhibitions. Vivid examples of space encroaching mass to create moments of imagination and form architecture that is different from each observer. 

To an architect, it looks like a brilliant composition of slabs, beams, columns and reinforcement put ever so abstractly to glorify perception.

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Constructing the Future

Daniel Mullen’s 2016 project focuses on aesthetics guided by the Dutch movement, ‘De Stijl’ or Neoplasticism. This 1917, movement consisted of artists and architects who focused on lines, primary colours and geometric shapes. 

Daniel Mullen merged futurism and constructed a mirror of unlimited prospects with verticals, horizontals and gradients. At a glance, this project looks like a play of glass shards and mirrors. The resultant of some force, like a portal into the future.

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Synesthesia | Daniel Mullen

A project Daniel Mullen worked on with his wife and artist, Lucy Cordes. Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon where one sensory stimulates another cognitive pathway or sensory. 

For instance, one can taste a colour while looking at it. Lucy Cordes experiences colour and time in the most interesting way and Daniel explores this and together they create paintings that represent numbers, decades and days of the week.

During their creative process, they choose specific dates and Lucy describes the exact colour and shape while Daniel composes it to match what Lucy perceives. These take a person to another dimension and they encounter different emotions while they visualize a painting.

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A canvas has lines that have their own vanishing point and all these lines compress to the centre. In another project called ‘Pulse’; Daniel Mullen shows two canvases and when staring at one, the other canvas beats or pulsates. 

Daniel relates to and is inspired by the works of artists like Piet Mondrian, Agnes Martin and Julie Mehretu.

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At a distance, Daniel’s artwork looks so fine it feels digital. Some feel they are at a James Turrel exhibition. James Turrel is known for his artistic and architectural contribution to the Light and Space movement. Daniel creates abstract architectural works that confuse the viewer with all sorts of optical illusions just like James Turrel. Walking up close to the art, acrylic and canvas texture comes clear.

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Mullen says: “I paint an illusion to be recognised as exactly that, therefore raising the question of perception, like the shadows on the wall in the analogy of Plato’s cave”. Art is not viewing something and analysing it. It is an experience based on one’s life or beliefs. An art piece connects the artist to the viewer. A connection based on what the artist wants to make the audience interpret.

Studying Daniel Mullen’s work smears the line between the perception of reality and illusion. It exposes artists towards breaking down a barrier, what seemed impossible before is now an opportunity. His work truly inspires. Reality needn’t be defined or caged.

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Reference List

DANIEL MULLEN. DANIEL MULLEN Paintings. [online]. Available at:https://danielmullen.info/. [Accessed date: 28/02/2021].

Archilovers. Un-Intentional Space | Daniel Mullen. [online]. Available at: https://www.archilovers.com/projects/76732/un-intentional-space.html#info. [Accessed date:28/02/2021].

Artsy.net. Daniel Mullen – 13 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy. [online]. Available at:https://www.artsy.net/artist/daniel-mullen/works-for-sale?page=2.  [Accessed date:28/02/2021].

TRENDLAND | Online Trend News. Abstract Architectural Works by Daniel Mullen. [online]. Available at:https://trendland.com/abstract-architectural-works-by-daniel-mullen/. [Accessed date:].

Artnet.com. [online]. Available at:http://www.artnet.com/artists/daniel-mullen/ephemeral-field-a-Uiz_S92x-2-tE0m3hECQbw2. [Accessed date: 23/02/2021].

WE AND THE COLOR. Artist Daniel Mullen – Paintings of Architectural Volumes. [online]. Available at:https://weandthecolor.com/artist-daniel-mullen-paintings-of-architectural-volumes/58766. [Accessed date: 25/02/2021].

Daniel Mullen. (2017). [Youtube video]. Available at: https://youtu.be/qX0S7HU3FZc. [Accessed:25/02/2021].


While keeping to her roots, Abigail likes to venture unconventional paths. Exploring a designer's journey of concept making excites her anyday. While pursuing architecture she invests time in photography and music. She believes when designing, sustainability is a prerequisite along with adapting aesthetics.