Leap of Faith

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Leap of Faith, 2011 Oil On Linen 152.4 X 127 Cm © Courtesy of the Artist and Ben Brown Fine Arts Ltd
House Hunter, 2010 Oil On Linen 61 X 50.8 Cm © Courtesy of the artist and Ben Brown Fine Arts
County Line, 2012 Oil On Linen 130.8 X 207 Cm © Courtesy of the artist and Ben Brown Fine Arts
Leap of Faith

12 Brook's Mews
London W1K 4DG
United Kingdom
December 5th, 2012 - January 29th, 2013
Opening: December 4th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

+44 020 7734 8888
Mon-Fri 11-6; Sat 10:30-2:30
oil, linen, figurative


I’ve always had a certain fascination.
It’s basically paint what you know, and this is what I grew up with.
- Martin Mull

Ben Brown Fine Arts is pleased to present our third solo exhibition of works by American painter Martin Mull, whose  new works reacquaint his London audience with the discordant promises of post-World War II suburban America he  grew up with. Drawing equally from lifestyle magazines and life experience, Martin Mull cleverly appropriates visual  material from both; his paintings function against the framework of flickering collective memory and within the cultural  unrest and individual discontent of the present. 

Throughout his multi-faceted career in stand-up comedy, music, film and television, Mull has become well known as an  ironist and satirist, however, the comedic quality of his paintings is contradicted by an equal amount of sorrow – he has  moved beyond irony and satire to successfully achieve depth and meaning. 

Mull’s careful compositions are a continuation of the lineage of American sinister, brooding, mystifying narrative  painting of Edward Hopper, Erick Fischl, Mark Tansey and John Currin. Mull’s narratives are complicated and multilayered – he successfully builds up a sense of tension in his paintings by juxtaposing contradictory elements or placing  figures in unlikely contexts. If there is a narrative in Mull’s work it is hinted at rather than depicted literally and it is left  to the viewers and their disparate points of view to determine their own interpretation. It is more of a psychological  story that is moody, haunting and sometimes disturbing as he delves with insight into the underlying flaws of the  American dream.

Leap of Faith, 2011, which lends the exhibition its name, encapsulates the dramatic and discordant elements that  distinguish Mull’s paintings. Framed within a border of vintage chintz, three young men are seen happily suspended in midair, appearing to jump into an awaiting body of water. Unbeknownst to the would-be swimmers, behind them a  train steams ahead at full speed, leaving the viewer to disentangle the theatrical, dream-like scene in front of them.

Mull’s deftly painted figures and locomotive in a monochromatic palette give the impression of compact cinematic  snap shots, or an old photograph; this combined with the unexpected bursts of colour of the leaves in the foreground  suggest the imperfect clarity of hindsight. An essential component of live theatre, film and television, this suspension  of disbelief that Mull asks from his viewers is the ultimate leap of faith.

About Martin Mull
Martin Mull lives and works in Los Angeles. Born in 1943, in Chicago, Illinois, Mull was raised in Ohio and later received  his BFA in 1965 followed by an MFA in 1967 from the Rhode Island School of Design. Having exhibited extensively over  the past thirty years, Mull’s work is in the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Los  Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, The Whitney Museum of Art, New York and the Total Contemporary Art  Museum, Seoul amongst others.