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Martin Mull, Seven Deadly Sins

Stellan Holm Gallery
524 West 24th Street, 212-627-7444
December 11, 2008 - January 31, 2009
Reception: Thursday, December 11, 6 - 8 PM
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Stellan Holm Gallery proudly presents Seven Deadly Sins, an exhibition of new works by painter Martin Mull. Exhibition opens on Thursday, December 11 and will run through Saturday, January 31, 2009. Opening reception on Thursday, December 11 from 6 to 8pm.

Seven Deadly Sins is Martin Mull’s first exhibition at Stellan Holm Gallery and features thirteen new paintings, including a series of seven paintings, each of which depicts a deadly sin. Gluttony is depicted by a family indulging in their dinner and the warped image of well-raised children eating greedily like animals. Sloth is represented by a forlorn man, sedentary outside his trailer, a not so subtle warning that sloth may condemn one to a life in a trailer park.

Culled from discarded family photographs (none of which belong to the artist) and popular images of the 1950s and 1960s, Mull’s subjects serve as a critique of Suburbia and The American Dream. In Last Seen in the Park, the proverbial middle-class nuclear family stands for their portrait. Yet behind the family’s impeccable guise, the Boy Scout’s uniform and their perfect smiles lies a disconcerting undercurrent, suppressed by the idyllic ideal. The pristine suits and the manicured cul-de-sacs of American post-war affluence hide an underlying apprehension of the future and insecurity of class warfare. The perfect family, or rather the fantasy family, comes at a cost.

Martin Mull’s works are an intelligent blend of traditional painting technique and postmodern appropriation of images. Mull perfects the practice of painting his subjects in grisaille whereby the figures are rendered in varying shades of gray; the monochromatic palette allows us to step back to a time before color photographs. Mull utilization’s of the practice of cut-outs produces a collage of disjointed subjects. The result is a recontextualization of old and new, the familiar and the unknown. The linen paintings are created within a painted frame, producing a trompe l’oeil effect, further distancing us from the original images upon which they are based.

Born in 1943, Martin Mull was raised in the era in which he critiques. He received his BFA (1965) and MFA (1967) from Rhode Island School of Design. He has exhibited extensively in the past 30 years, and his works are in numerous prominent private and public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Walker Art Center. Martin Mull lives and works in Los Angeles.
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