A Santa Fe Group Show Reveals the Abstractions Within Figuration
Martin Mull examines the visual culture of post-war America through his photorealist and pop-style oil paintings, whose imagery is sourced from found mid-century children’s books and photographs of family life. Although detachment and dark undertones permeate works such as the ironically titled Comedian (2010), the comedic impulse Mull perfected through his acting career is also palpable in some paintings. In War and Peace (2010) for example, two 1950s-looking pre-adolescent couples occupy distinct universes within the same all-American backyard: a doe-eyed, pigtailed girl locks eyes with a boy who holds her close, while in the background another girl tackles a boy to the ground. Exemplifying the color contrast that recurs throughout many of Mull’s paintings, the happy couple is rendered in soft pastels while the rest of the scene is black and white.
American, b. 1943, based in Los Angeles, California