Phonic Rhythms

Sean Sullivan at Jack Hanley Gallery in New York City

by Gae Savannah
Jack Hanley Gallery, Sean Sullivan
Sean Sullivan, á ùne éa: No. 1-15, 2018, oil on found paper, dimensions variable

A medley of riffs, measured out and then not. In “á ùne éa, #1-15,” musical bar lines form initial structures. Wayward marks though, soon follow. Through Sean Sullivan’s guileless delight in clumsy shapes and patterns, a language of flaw emerges. Included are two printmaking matrices, post oil-transfer process. They have a muffled softness, invoking a state of being, deep in non-verbal, right brain. Elsewhere, crisply printed, orange and green fragments embody the buoyant feelings of up-tempo music. Overall, Sullivan’s understatement brings to mind a Jarmusch film (say, Stranger than Paradise). Jarmusch forgoes high action, alternately crafting the screenplay out of the uneventful scenes that would end up on the cutting floor of a Hollywood blockbuster. Slowly engrossing like a French film such as Tous Les Matins du Monde, this group muses on the quiet satisfaction of making something by hand. Smudges from the rubbing process acknowledged, the work conveys a humanity.

Jack Hanley Gallery, Sean Sullivan
Sean Sullivan, Sunset (for Albers), 2018, solo print

Another solo print, Sunset (for Albers), presents an elusive chromafield. With no lines, just furry, subtlly wandering edges, the wide-horizontal composition feels spacious, expansive. One’s eyes roam, scanning the color chord on the left side, (warm orange/light Indian Red/cool orange). We note the smooth, oil-pastel chromahaze floating the top layer. Grounding the piece is a dense blue-black area. Its marred surface appears organic like the skin of a whale, bringing sentience to geometric art. Then coming into our awareness is a central coral overlay, which counters any insinuation of broader space or interior architecture. Without knowing it, we are beamed out of the corporeal and into an arcane mental space, a Sugimoto-unreadable theater of the mind.