Lee Mullican

Lee Mullican (December 2, 1919 in Chickasha, Oklahoma – July 8, 1998 in Santa Monica, California) was a painter and art teacher, and an influential member of the Dynaton Movement. He moved to San Francisco in 1947, and was part of a 1951 exhibition called "Dynaton" held at the San Francisco Museum of Art.Mullican was a member of the UCLA art faculty from 1962 to 1990.He married Luchita Hurtado; their son Matt Mullican is a New York City based artist; their son John Mullican is a Los Angeles based writer and director. He is represented by Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles, California.
An exhibition of Mullican's ceramics, photography and computer drawings were exhibited in a re-purposed commercial space in Beverly Hills as part of a series of installations hosted by the non-profit, Equitable Vitrines from October 3 through November 21, 2015.Wikipedia

 "While occasionally diverting himself with other mediums, the greater body of Mullicans work consists mostly of drawing and, usually aided by the palette knife, painting. Most of these meticulously-constructed canvases can be found in the Los Angeles area, the center of his exhibiting and teaching career.
A wide range of Mullicans life experiences -- cultural, philosophical, and artistic -- have influenced his painting style. More than his college training, which yielded little beyond some technical development, it was Mullicans term in the army that proved most artistically formative. Drafted into the war as a topographer, his training and eventual service in Hawaii and Japan demanded innumerable recordings of aerial photographs. This process, ingraining shapes and patterns from birds-eye perspectives into his drawing habits, cultivated his preexisting appreciation for naturalistic forms and abstract patterns. Additionally, access to museums and libraries of the East Coast and Hawaii during this time presented him the opportunity to ponder contemporary trends and thought in the art world, an art world effectively hidden from the Midwest. Specifically, his knowledge of (through the magazine Dyn) and ensuing friendship with Wolfgang Paalen exposed Mullican to non-western antiquity as well as to Paalens transcendent philosophies born out of the European Surrealist movement.

 Absorbing these war-time developments while infusing them into his work afterward in San Francisco, Mullican began crafting his tapestry-like paintings in a style characterized by apparent contradictions. His paintings are at once naturalistic yet rigidly linear. Though relevant in their cosmopolitan exhibition environment, his paintings exude with the mysticism of ancient American cultures. Chaotically germinating but grounded in focal points, Mullicans work is suggestive both of scientific phenomena (DNA strands, cells, etc.) and spiritual states of being. In an interview with Paul Karlstom he discussed his approach to painting in relation to these conflicts: I was one minute grasping outer space, and the next minute, I was grasping whats below the desert floor.
Rarely is this element of paradox more evident than in examples of his Guardian canvases, completed between 1978-1980. Abstract patterns weave together vertically and horizontally, conjuring images of mysterious figures in a manner reminiscent of Pre-Colombian textiles. This historical influence --which Mullican admits to be a factor -- would seemingly locate the work within a particular time frame. However, the vague nature of the beings in the paintings, their lack of specific titles or features (along with Mullicans insistence that they bare no chronological significance), seems at odds with the former conclusion; it speaks of universality.

 At one point early in his career, a friend asked him to describe the mental process that occurs while painting in the studio. Never having considered this question, Mullican realized that each finished work represented a record of an unconscious process. I am standing on this particular metaphysical, almost unexplainable plane in my studio, the canvas is there before me, and its in this attitude that makes the painting appear.He relies upon his subjectively-rooted unconscious to achieve objective universal truths, again indicating the element of paradox as it applies to his studio mindset. That the ultimate end of any of his paintings relies upon contradictory visual elements is perhaps attributable to this equally contradictory approach."(sullivangoss.com/Mullican_Lee)

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