OPENING RECEPTION: SATURDAY, MAY 14, 5 - 7 PM
EXHIBITION WALKTHROUGH: THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 6:30 PM
James Cohan is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by the late California artist Lee Mullican (1919-1998) in the Chelsea gallery space from May 14 through June 18, 2016. The exhibition will feature paintings and drawings from the late 1950s through the 1960s. An exhibition of paintings produced by Mullican between 1949 and 1961 will be on view at Susan Inglett Gallery, located at 522 West 24 Street, from April 28 through June 4.
Mullican’s productive sixty-year career was launched in San Francisco as one of three artists who identified as the Dynaton Group. Through a chance meeting, he became close to Gordon Onslow Ford and later met the Surrealist painter, Wolfgang Paalen, who had published the influential Dyn Magazine. Their shared interests culminated in the seminal Dynaton exhibition at San Francisco Museum of Art in 1951 which not only included the work of the three artists, but also featured objects from their own collections of pre-Columbian and Native American artifacts. These works by indigenous artists including kachina dolls, Zuni wood carvings, Sioux pictographs, Navajo rugs, Rio Grande blankets and pre-Columbian and Northwest coast art, were treasured for their powerful rhythms. Though short-lived, the Dynaton Group’s philosophies became foundational to his career.
Mullican’s paintings are a uniquely West Coast exploration into abstraction; one that is grounded in content, full of mysticism and connections to the transcendent. Mullican describes, “We were involved with a kind of meditation, and for me this had a great deal to do with the study of nature, and the study of pattern…We were dealing with art as a way of meditation.” This outlook was in contrast to the heroic, action-driven work made by their contemporaries, the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, on the East Coast.