Jody Zellen, ArtScene: Martin Mull

Review: Martin Mull at Samuel Freeman

By Jody Zellen
December 2013

“State of the Union” is a new series of (mostly) black and white paintings by Martin Mull, who in- serts his ironic wit into banal images of suburbia. His juxtapositions are carefully constructed from myriad source imagery - including family photographs from the 1950s - that lend the paintings an immediate sense of history. The tone is satiri- cal while calling attention to psycho- logical tensions between the subjects and their environs. Mull paints from photographs so as to render his im- ages with exacting detail. While it is not always clear what element came from which source, it is evident that Mull adds to the source imagery. In “Family Man” a naked woman strolls down the sidewalk behind a man with a clown-like face. Large birds uttering in the foreground add to the absurdity of the scene. In “Local Talent” an older man paints an image of a suburban house while two girls do hand stands. Local tal- ent has a double entendre - is it the talent of the girls or the painter? Mull’s paintings are often humorous and sometimes cutting, yet always give pause and ask viewers to think about the relationship between the past and the present (Samuel Freeman Gallery, Culver City).