Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
 

Martin Mull exhibits in NYC, Steve does a blurb


New York Observer
October 3, 2005
CULTURE; Currently Hanging, Pg. 22
Philip Pearlstein: A Drab Hand
Flaunts a Keen Eccentric Streak
Mario Naves

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White-Bread Noir

The aspirations and disappointments of suburban America continue to haunt the paintings of Martin Mull, on display at the Spike Gallery. Mr. Mull's collage-like juxtapositions of middle-class trappings and noirish, dissociated figures are suffused with a dry, absurdist melancholy. A pasticheur through and through, Mr. Mull cobbles together his wry and dreamy narratives by painting from preexisting images--photos that look like they're cut out of mass-circulation magazines circa 1957. He renders them in a soft monochrome, usually black and white, at times with a greenish cast, or in a palette that takes its cues from overexposed and faded Kodachrome snapshots.

Mr. Mull can't quite relinquish a certain smugness of tone; he has a tendency to flaunt his distance and smarts. Those leanings are nevertheless offset by an acknowledgment and acceptance of mixed feelings. No readymade cynicism here: A cool disdain for Leave It to Beaver doesn't obscure a simultaneous hankering for its white-bread fictions. Mr. Mull has more to tell us about the promise and limitations of "the American psyche" (as Steve Martin puts it in a blurb) than Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg--if not Stuart Davis and Edward Hopper. He's a painter capable of holding a viewer's attention and, almost against one's better inclinations, tugging at the heart.

Martin Mull: The Contemplation of Assets is at the Spike Gallery, 547 West 20th Street, until Nov. 12.

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You can find pictures of his work and more information at Spike Gallery.

Here's Steve's quote:

"Mull’s eye is focused dead center on the American psyche, and his hand is grounded in the tradition of American realism, which, in spite of dramatic excursions away from it, maintains a powerful grasp on American art."
- Steve Martin

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