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Alumni Studio Visit: Martin Dull

Martin Dull in his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

NYSS: Describe a typical day in studio.

Martin Dull: On a typical day in the studio I will arrive around noon. From there I’ll spend time procrastinating, cleaning, wandering around the space, getting my bearings, and gearing up. During this time, I also begin fiddling with any found object assemblages that I have been developing. About an hour or so later, if I have stretchers to assemble and canvases to prepare, I will begin that process. The next phase is painting. This takes a lot of time sitting, walking, looking, and carefully considering all possibilities. 

NYSS: Walk me through your process. What are some of the parameters or problems you set up for yourself within your work? 

MD: My actual approach is physical, placing and walking on and around the unstretched surface, dirtying it up and paying attention to any patterns that emerge. I then cut and stretch the canvas from the corners in toward the center. Once this is complete I may spill some paint or brush on some medium. Because I am not working in oil-based media, I don’t do any traditional preparing or gessoing. Anything is fair game.

Now comes the dance –

I place the canvas on the wall and look. I spin it. I move it to the floor. There is never a prescribed amount of time looking; it’s simply a waiting game. I’m waiting for the work to beg me to answer. Then, the approach – I’m in! I’m moving, dancing, releasing… Once the energy expires, I’m back out. This dance continues, sometimes hours at a time, well into the evening. 

Eventually I become exhausted. Depending on the time, I may leave for the night, call a painter friend to come look and shoot the breeze, or I may break out my handy inflatable camping mattress and take a nap.

NYSS: What do you keep in the studio for inspiration? Reference material, artist monographs, music, fiction, found objects, foods etc… 

MD: I always have my pile of discarded wood, construction materials and canvas close by along with books by Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and other philosophers. I also have my phone, which I use constantly to look up different reference materials and paintings, and for playing music or podcasts.

Studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

NYSS: Do you listen to anything while you work?

MD: I always hear music in my head, but, on the occasions that I actually play something in the studio, it’s either hardcore or post-hardcore punk rock, or old-time radio podcasts.

NYSS: How did studying at the New York Studio School influence your current studio practice? 

MD: The Studio School fostered a self-imposed seriousness and an unrelenting personal critical appraisal of my practice.

NYSS: Are there any upcoming shows or projects on the horizon you would like to share?! And where can people see your work in person and/or digitally? 

MD: I am excited to share that I currently have a solo exhibition at M. David and Co. It runs from February 1st through the 25th with a reception on the 1st. You can find out more at www.mdavidandco.com. You can also visit my website, www.martindullart.com, for the most current info on what I’m up to at the moment.

Snapshots From NYSS

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