In Endgame, Hirschl & Adler Modern’s first solo exhibition of Martin Mull’s work, the 14 oil paintings on display burn with an incisive edge. Distanced both critically and temporally, Mull interrogates the areas where disparate images of American life overlap. Images advocating a willfully blind optimism are embedded with explosive scenes of social strife; the visual resonance of both echoing deeply, from discordance to violence. The underlying tension of these oppositional images promises an impending collision, one that is sure to be witnessed by the viewer either this day or the next. By titling the exhibition Endgame, Mull sarcastically hints that its outcome is predetermined.
Sourced by the artist from period magazines and found-photographs, these loaded images are divorced from their original editorial or domestic context and are painted free-hand onto the canvas. The contemporary juxtaposition, achieved in lush color and harsh grisaille, comes to form an open-ended allegory with no moral posturing. The aim is to inform and question, not to pass judgment. Mull maintains that he is interested in “the object of the image itself” – how an image’s ontology changes given its context. The contexts that Mull creates allow for duplicity of meaning, at moments equally despairing and beautiful, hopeful and horrid.
In the work of Martin Mull, nothing is fixed; the nostalgic slips into the contemporary, the safe becomes the subversive. To support these ends, Mull exploits the elasticity of images and their meanings. Ideas and implications shift under the viewer’s gaze as the images of our recent history resonate portentously.
Martin Mull was born in 1943 in Chicago, IL. He received his BFA and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. He has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries world-wide, including Samuel Freeman (Los Angeles, CA), Ben Brown Fine Arts (London, UK), Carl Hammer (Chicago, IL), and Seomi Gallery (Seoul, Korea). Institutional solo exhibitions include the Las Vegas Art Museum (Las Vegas, NV), Figge Art Museum (Davenport, IA), Greenville County Museum of Art (Greenville, SC), Cleveland Center of Contemporary Art (Cleveland, OH), and the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA). Mull’s work can be found in the collections at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), The Brooklyn Museum (New York, NY), Harvard Museum of Fine Art (Boston, MA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) and The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY). This exhibition is Martin Mull’s first with Hirschl & Adler Modern. The artist lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.