The Swiss sisters and artists Claudia and Julia Müller like to distort people’s traditional perceptions of art through transformation. Ceramic vessels become canvases for painting. Two-dimensional works that appear to be paintings are actually monoprints on canvas. The collaborators also have a predisposition towards juxtaposing the figurative with the abstract. For their current exhibition at Maccarone in New York, which runs until 17 October, the Müllers selected the title ‘Umkehrschub’, the German word for ‘reverse thrust’ — meaning that opposing energy creates a new movement. Wallpaper* visited the gallery a few days before the opening to chat about the show.

‘The title explains the whole energy about how we approach painting,' says Claudia. The Müllers selected two black-and-white photographs of stone sculptures of female figures from the 1960s by Gerhard Marcks and Karl Geiser, projecting the images on the wall so they could paint murals over the projections. They placed groups of colourful ceramic vessels on stands in front of the murals to achieve a thought-provoking contrast. ‘Black and white are used as a juxtaposition against the color,' explains Claudia. Adds Julia, 'the stone is expressed in different ways, so it’s all about this inversion'.

The other part of the exhibition consists of the monoprint-on-canvas works, and it reverses the idea the Müller put forth in the other piece; they place small black-and-white nude photographs of both men and women – some are models they selected, others are studies of the sculptures depicted in the murals – in the corner of vivid, large scale abstract prints that at first glance, look like paintings. ‘It’s a play or a game between sizes, gravity and perception of the body,’ says Claudia. ‘It’s not about sexuality,’ explains Julia. ‘It’s more about forms, movements, gestures, positions.’

They don’t just refer to the ceramic vessels as design objects; the sisters consider them art objects. ‘The vessel is a simple form, but actually we treat them like canvases for our painting.' They manipulated the ceramic into various forms to complement the murals.