“When I got fired from the Whitney I told myself, They’re kicking me out the back door, but one day they’re going to invite me in through the front.”
And so it came to pass. Thirty one years after being let go as an administrative secretary at the venerable institution, Andrew Masullo’s first job after graduating from Rutgers University, 34 0f his small scale paintings were hung in the 76th Whitney Biennale of 2012.
With numbers for titles, Masullo’s paintings are more often than not described as intimate i.e. small.
As the Los Angeles Times’ David Pagel explained “Some are not much bigger than business cards. Most are smaller than ordinary sheets of paper. Among such pint sized neighbors, the biggest, a 2x2 foot diamond, has the presence of a compressed mural.”
About which Masullo opined to the Two Coats of Paint blog “Have you noticed that painters with little to say often choose the largest canvases on which to say it?”
Masullo discovered art whilst studying languages at Rutgers. His epiphany came after attending a lecture about positive and negative space.
As he told the New York Times’ Carol Kino “That was the moment that I realized this thing called art was not about representation. It was about seeing the world in a different kind of way.”
During the 1980’s Masullo was predominately making objects from found objects.
About which The New York Times’ art critic Roberta Smith wrote in 1989 “As the seemingly countless small works in his fifth solo exhibition prove, Andrew Masullo can make art out of anything: the cover of an old book or its typescript, a found photograph or a junk-shop oil painting, a scrap of plywood or an old powder compact.”
A second epiphany occurred in the 1990’s which saw Masullo abandon found objects and concentrate on making paintings. After a frustrating year of making paint by numbers animal portraits he resolved to make works devoid of content.
As he has said “I wanted to make paintings that were completely by me, with shapes and colors and hard edges. I wanted to see if I could make a painting from scratch that had no content other than what it was about.”
But he rejects the categorization of his work as being abstract, stating ““Abstract is one of those terms, like artist, that means nothing. My paintings are nonobjective because there’s no object in them. I didn’t find a shadow or a lily pond someplace that I was inspired by. I work with just regular light bulbs, and I start from scratch, and I never know where I’m starting or where I’m going.”
And about which the co-curator of the 2012 Whitney biennale Jay Sanders remarked “It felt very fresh to us at this moment. It’s not totally backed up by a lot of theory or a conceptual practice. It’s pure painting. And it looks fantastic.”
His current exhibition Andrew Masullo: Recent Paintings is on show at New York’s Tibor De Nagy Gallery until the 5th of December.