By Arthur Lubow
New York, NY – November 18, 2022 – 125 Newbury proudly presents a solo exhibition of new paintings by Ryan Sullivan. In his first solo presentation in NY since 2017, Sullivan debuts works made with a unique technique that suspends pigment in industrial-grade resin. This is the second exhibition at 125 Newbury’s Tribeca location at 395 Broadway.
In this new series of works, Sullivan has scrambled the logic of painting and sculpture. He paints face-down using pure pigment fixed in resin, a process borrowed from sculptural mold-making. This technique means that he is, in effect, painting in reverse: from foreground to background. As he works, the face of the painting becomes increasingly obscured; the final product only reveals itself after the resin has cured. Once set, there is no opportunity for revision.
Ryan Sullivan’s paintings propose a new system of categorization, where familiar elements shatter upon closer inspection: strokes of gestural abstraction counteract seemingly natural forms brought about by a constant tension between the artist’s hand and the agency of his material. Because the forms do not sit on the work’s surface, they seem to be suspended, as if contained in a sheet of ice.
Although Sullivan’s paintings resonate conceptually with Lynda Benglis’ “frozen gestures”—her sculptural forms made of poured latex and polyurethane foam, where surface and support are collapsed—the results differ. Sullivan’s paintings generate an optical compression, producing a fixed and impenetrable brushstroke, while Benglis’ fleshy expansions break with the visual rigidity of sculpture. The improvised brushstrokes, now “frozen” in resin, confound a straightforward narrative of material agency and chance. They arrest the viewer’s attention and destabilize the impulse to draw visual parallels to organic forms. Above all, Sullivan’s works rupture the language of painting, forcing one to contend with a work without seeking interpretation or clarity.
ABOUT RYAN SULLIVAN
Ryan Sullivan (b. 1983, New York) studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. He was the subject of a significant solo exhibition at ICA Miami in 2015 with an accompanying catalogue. The artist’s work has also been featured in exhibitions at public institutions including the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2022); The High Line, New York (2019); GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (2018); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn (2015); Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013), Hydra Workshop, Hydra (2013); and MoMA PS1, New York (2010). Work by Sullivan is held in numerous public collections, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York; RISD Museum of Art, Providence; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. Sullivan lives and works in New York City.