Sean Sullivan “Elegysome” at Feuilleton, Los Angeles
Feuilleton is proud to present an exhibition of the Hudson Valley-based artist Sean Sullivan.
The work of Sean Sullivan deftly plays with paradoxes and limitations. It is bound by a set of very specific procedures and parameters, which allow it to become, paradoxically, limitless. Something between a painting, drawing, monoprint, and a piece of writing, not to mention a classical (indexical) photograph, Sullivan’s compact works marvelously resist classification. They consist of oil paint/stick transferred to found paper (often pages from old books). The rather elaborate process whereby he does this consists of the application of oil stick to a sheet of newsprint, which he then thins out with a silkscreen squeegee until it resembles something like carbon paper. Then he places the found paper face down on top of the oil transfer paper and makes a drawing on the reverse of the found paper with a Bic ballpoint pen. Each color in a finished piece is represented by a different sheet of oil transfer paper– what he describes as “a hybrid sort of drawing/printmaking process.” Given that the application of his mark making is largely guided by rulers, washers and record albums, his technical vocabulary is quite restrained, and yet the resultant images, which range from off-kilter, geometric design-like patterns to architectural interiors and exteriors to more exuberant biomorphic abstractions, are as rich and variegated as his supports are small.
Indeed, if large-scale painting is analogous to the literary epic, then what Sullivan makes can be likened to the form of the haiku. Effectively palimpsests, the works cumulatively read as meditations encoded into a personal and idiosyncratic language that secretly discloses itself entirely. There is an odd, radically meticulous and devotional quality to what he does. It is, at times, redolent of the pictorially dense and mathematical logic of the arabesque, while at other times, it seems to be the byproduct of an almost mystical, modernist possession, while still at others, the diagrammatic ravings of a possibly unhinged scholiast. Imagining the production of these pieces, one pictures a figure insistently bent over as if in prayer, or toiling over an illuminated manuscript, or finally, privately laboring away, like a watchmaker– activities which are probably not so dissimilar to one another in the special and inimitable universe of Sean Sullivan.
Feuilleton and Sean Sullivan would like to express their solidarity with Black Lives Matter, 20% of all sales will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative.
At Feuilleton, Los Angeles
until 27 June 2020