Sullivan’s work process, in which oil paint is ‘recorded’ through simple transfer processes, is very similar. While color and composition can be chosen with a reliable certainty, the transfer process from one paper to the next leaves room for the unpredictable traces of chance. Beyond the technical aspects of chance, how it is made, how it ultimately turns out regardless of intentions, Sullivan’s process also reflects his personal proclamation and exercise of acceptance of the world and of himself. As it relates to the work, it shows a desire to fall in the space where things are unsaid, unwritten, only implied yet somehow understood. To be present and honest in the process without getting in the way.
Sean Sullivan approaches drawing and printmaking as a recording process akin to and inspired by early American photography and musical recordings. These early recordings allow one to not only experience the intention of the makers, what they thought and how they felt, but also the errant details of the atmospheric conditions in which they were made. Those marks beyond their control. Together, the limitation of technology and the weight of time produce artifacts of otherworldly tone and mystery. The process he employs attempts to invite similar unknowns. The drawings are relatively simple in structure and execution. They are made quickly with a ballpoint pen, a ruler, and a homemade version of large scale carbon paper (oil paint applied to paper). The result is a primitive transfer process that ‘records’ in oil paint, not only the intended lines of the drawing, the ideas themselves, but just as importantly, the unpredictable marks of chance.
(b. 1975 Bronx, NY) Sean Sullivan has presented work in recent solo exhibitions at Devening Projects in Chicago; the 510 Warren Street Gallery in Hudson, NY; BDDW in New York, NY, as well as others. He has participated in group exhibitions at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, NY; the Markus Luttgen and Ute Parduhn Galleries in Dusseldorf, Germany; and the Museum for Drawing, Huningen, Belgium. He received the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts Grant in 2017. He lives and works in the Hudson Valley, NY.