los-angeles

Lee Mullican

UCLA Art Galleries

Lee Mullican is now a middle-aged painter, traditional (i.e. with a faith in the “magic” of canvas and paint) and academic (a professor at UCLA); exhibitions of his work force the already implied question: is the artist a visionary or a cautionary? Mullican’s general style pumps for the former, that is to say personal, colorful, mystic, optimistic, while his technique, his physical way of making a painting, suggests the latter. The exhibition consists of 29 paintings, from 1965 to 1969, ranging in size from six by nine feet to two by three feet, but the images—a complicated graphic which fills the entire canvas, and a complicated laying on of paint, including the deep mechanical impasto line which is Mullican’s trademark—are too consistent (not for a systemic painter doting on series, but for Mullican, who wants to begin again with each new canvas). True, there are some relatively open,

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