02.19 — 03.26.17
Sunset, Saudade Station
February 19 – March 26, 2017
Opening reception: Sunday, February 19, 4 – 7pm
Sunset, Saudade Station—The Work
“This body of work began taking shape sometime in the twilight of 2016 – late summer, early fall. As a citizen of the world, the raw, collective tumult made for more than one sleepless night. As an artist, it was pure gold. Not since the 1930‘s has the world been so divided, so fractured. Full of emotion, intellectual and moral debate, the world was choosing sides and in the process filling the ether with energy. All one had to do was raise the antennae and tune in the signal. I had chosen my side and as is my usual M.O., I began searching out a musical counterpoint from which to coax out the visuals. This time around it was an eclectic mix of Yiddish Klezmer, Peruvian and Russian Folk with a strong side of Eighties, Romantic Pop – think Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ and Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’—sunset music at it’s best. Pure emotion, math and melody. The work that came out is meandering at best, full of starts and stops. But, it is my hope that it translates into something meaningful and moving and ultimately, if I’m lucky, something untranslatable and unidentifiable much like the word *Saudade.
Technically speaking it’s both an arrival and a departure. An arrival because it picks up where I had left off—a return to the oil on found paper transfer drawings I began making in 2010, but had turned my back on in recent years in search of newer paths. After making my peace with the technique I began to push it in an effort to harness the emotions and thoughts that were coming at me. I was craving Color with a capital C. Big time. It felt important – politically, even morally to push and use color – to include as much of it as I could – to find, identify and celebrate the outsider, the refugee – the idea of ‘Otherness’. At the same time I began to paint with a brush again—something I hadn’t done in years. Needless to say, I was hooked—it freed me up for looser explorations of color, material and most importantly – emotion.”
— Sean Sulllivan, 2017
*Saudade: a Portuguese and Galician term, untranslatable in English, means a deep state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.
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.
Sean Sullivan has shown throughout the Northeast; he will be featured in a show in May, 2017 at 57w57arts in New York. Sean Sullivan lives with his family in Saugerties, New York.