Marlon Mullen’s second solo exhibition at JTT Gallery is an expansive collection of recent works by this San Francisco-based hero in the progressive art studio movement.Read More
The process of evaluating any artwork includes some interpretation of how it functions - mechanisms such as the way gestural brushstrokes communicate movement by indexing the physical action of their application, or the way that arrangements of representational imagery can imply relationships between elements that generate narrative.
The mechanism by which Billy White’s paintings elicit emotion is sharply specific, yet escapes analysis, remaining a wonderful mystery. A loose, fearless application of paint renders forms with a striking physicality and sense of humor. There’s an uncanny affinity with the work of figurative painters Todd Bienvenu and Katherine Bradford (who both have an aesthetic undoubtedly informed by the work of self-taught artists). The impact of White’s work cuts through a vivid alternate world that operates on White’s terms - a highly original set of priorities, passing over image and rendering to achieve an expression of mood and vitality, as though excavating the underlying stories that were already present; impatient mark-making and barely legible imagery find time and space for redolent storytelling and detail. While he typically focuses on painting and drawing, White occasionally creates small ceramic sculptures that are rich in character and evocative of Allison Schulnik’s warped clay figures - slumped postures, elongated, rubbery appendages, intermingling glazes, and sunken, cartoonish expressions.
White’s work is largely influenced by his avid interest in pop culture, often depicting actual and imagined events in the lives of various celebrities or fictional characters, from Dr Dre to Hulk Hogan to Superman. NIAD provides some insight into White’s process: “He might start off painting Bill Cosby, but quickly change his mind by lunch. When that happens, he simply works right on top and doesn’t erase what came before. The new work becomes an extension of the old. By the end of the day this could happen several times and what’s often left is a latticework of figures and stories with interchangeable meanings.”
Billy White (b. 1962) has exhibited previously in Rollergate at the Seattle Art Fair, Telling It Slant organized by Courtney Eldridge at the Richmond Art Center, Undercover Geniuses organized by Jan Moore at the Petaluma Art Center, ArtPad San Francisco at the Phoenix Hotel, and extensively at NIAD Art Center, where he has maintained a studio practice since 1994. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at San Francisco’s Jack Fischer Gallery later this year.
The visual quality of Larry Pearsall’s drawings makes them initially seem very rudimentary. However, they quickly begin to reward careful examination with a revealed nuance and sophistication. This cartoonish place is full of striking details - armpit stains, tile grout shifting color in different lights, a door slightly ajar in suspense, and a mirror reflects the far edge of a bathroom stall. It's in these details that the robust realization of Pearsall’s alternate world (Apple Bay) shines through his highly stylized and systematic way of describing it. This juxtaposition of the highly unreal and real places the unsettling narrative on a precarious line between humorously bizarre and disturbing. Pearsall creates art at one of ECF’s Los Angeles art centers and is represented by their affiliate DAC Gallery. DAC exhibits his work regularly and also has it available for purchase on Amazon.com. More on Pearsall and Apple Bay from DAC Gallery:
“...Larry Pearsall's flat, cartoon-style paintings narrate the ongoing saga of a dark place called "Apple Bay". Inhabited by characters such as "The Overall Team Club" (a group of overall wearing pre-pubescent boys and girls), guardian animals (cats, possums, rats), a bald 100-year-old bearded pedophile named "Bon", and hundreds of others, Apple Bay is a place where abuse happens behind closed doors, and demons reside in deceptively innocuous settings. In this avowedly fictional narrative, "bad" members are depicted as such, and while their victims are clearly oppressed and visibly marked, they are often unaware of their abuse. Larry Pearsall has been developing the Apple Bay story for the past ten years. It has been translated in paintings, prints, and ceramics. Although Pearsall is soft-spoken, he is always eager to discuss the story of the town and its inhabitants, giving listeners an astounding amount of detail...” (more)
Marlon Mullen, who is represented exclusively by JTT in New York City, lives in Richmond California, where he maintains a studio practice at NIAD Art Center. Mullen’s abstractions reduce found imagery, often in the form of art magazines, to a point well beyond recognition. Mullen’s work, characterized by flat, simple abstraction, is achieved with an unprecedented sense of honesty, devoid of stylistic embellishment and without reverting to geometric or other systematic deconstructions (calling to mind the work of Gary Hume and Monique Prieto). Each elegant, lushly painted composition feels like an original and unequivocal interpretation of its source (often maintaining only fragments of the initial image), but ultimately asserting a new sense of resolution with power and charm. (See More)
Mullen currently has a solo exhibition on view until November 7, 2015 at Atlanta Contemporary in Georgia. Recent selected exhibitions include the Parking Lot Art Fair, San Francisco (2015), Marlon Mullen at JTT in NYC (2015), NADA Art Fair White Columns Booth in Miami (2014), Under Another Name, organized by Thomas J. Lax at the Studio Museum of Harlem (2014), Undercover Geniuses organized by Jan Moore at the Petaluma Arts Center (2013), Color and Form at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco (2013), and Marlon Mullen at White Columns in NYC (2012). Mullen is a 2015 recipient of the Wynn Newhouse Award.