Sean Sullivan at Jack Hanley Gallery in New York City
by Gae Savannah
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.
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.