Marx & Zavattero are proud to present For Here or To Go, a solo exhibition of new paintings by San Francisco artist Paul Mullins. Negotiating a visceral, manly terrain and revealing a masculinity that is tender and often at odds with itself, this exhibition promises highly personal imagery that is unexpected, as it wrestles with issues of social class and place.
Born and raised in West Virginia, Mullins has spent the past two decades creating seductive paintings and drawings that grapple with a male identity deeply shaped by his southern cultural roots. By using the figurative, representational, painted language as his primary avenue of expression, Mullins conveys a degree of gentleness toward his subject matter. His hazy loose fragmented memories – a football player’s twisting torso, a buxom smooching woman, wrestling boots, trailer parks, mustachioed men – are represented with confident, frosting-like strokes in a feminine palette of pinks, pale blues, whites, and greens. Mullins’ fleshy images take on the beauty and drama of a Fragonard and upend the macho stereotype of the artist’s upbringing and the characters he paints. One of the most beguiling characteristics of his work is this attempt to reconcile his histories – the boy he was, and the man he has become – a painter and professor of fine art.
Mullins’ series of new large Lip Tattoo paintings, raw close-ups of men and women pulling their bottom lips open, revealing pithy text tattooed on the inside of their mouths, are a perfect illustration of this dynamic. His depiction of this subculture speaks to the artist’s ongoing fascination with social class and the notion of place. “So much of what I do is about ‘home’, or the fantasy of reconciling the rural and the urban, intellectual and the callow, the manly and the civilized,” Mullins explains, concluding, “the figures, or rather, the people in my work are representative of anonymous, countless types – the sort I knew. Can I have the quality of painting’s best language and nail that sensation these people, their lives, that place emit – together in a work?”
Mullins has exhibited extensively, with solo shows at Nathan Larramendy Gallery, Ojai, CA; Ambrosino Gallery, Miami, FL; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Aaron Packer Gallery, Chicago, IL; and lyonswiergallery, New York, NY. Group exhibitions include Sea Change: The 10th Anniversary Exhibition, Marx & Zavattero; The Squared Circle: Boxing in Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; The Perception of Appearance, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA; and Drawings: Visions, Surfaces, and Beyond, Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, among many others. His work has been reviewed or featured in ARTnews, Flash Art, 7x7 Magazine, Flaunt, art ltd., the Miami Herald, the New Art Examiner, the Washington Post, Artnet.com, and other publications. His work is held in several private and public collections, most notably the Rubell Family Collection. Mullins received his MFA from Ohio University, his BFA from Marshall University, and is currently a Professor of Art at San Francisco State University.