“Almost all art is about looking at death and trying to defy it somehow,” says Mark Mulroney. He considers sex and gore as primary means of defiance, and accordingly, guts, exaggerated genitalia, bloody wounds, and well-endowed pin-up girls take center stage in his surrealistic, comic-style paintings. Take for instance “Sent Upstate” (2011), a series equally inspired by Playboy and Mulroney’s traumatic Catholic upbringing. One untitled painting depicts a bikini-clad voluptuous woman holding a knife in one hand, and the gory flesh cut from a naked man hanging Christ-like from an invisible structure, in the other. By way of explaining the series, Mulroney, who is not known for his discretion, says, “I just relied on my usual methods: put a boner on something or make it bleed.”

Artist Statement

The other day my wife and I were seated at our kitchen table eating breakfast. She was having coffee, yogurt, and some sliced fruit. I was staring off into space. She looked at me and asked, “What are you thinking?” I told her, “I think I’ve reached the point in my life where I could hug a tree and it would actually mean something.” She believed me because she knew that I meant it. 

My attitude has changed over the years. I now believe in something. It is hard to describe what that something is. It is not a formal doctrine or neatly arranged religion, what I believe in is generosity. Giving something with the hope that what you give will make someone else’s life just a little bit more bearable. I do not always succeed; every now and then I give a really lousy gift. If you are someone who has received a lousy gift from me, I apologize and will try to do better next time.