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.
125 Newbury is a project space in New York City helmed by Arne Glimcher, Founder and Chairman of Pace Gallery. Named for the original location of Pace, which Glimcher opened at 125 Newbury Street in Boston in 1960, the venture is located at 395 Broadway in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, at the corner of Walker Street. Occupying a 3,900-square-foot ground-floor space in a landmark building with 17-foot ceilings, the interior of 125 Newbury has been fully renovated by Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozerski of Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture.
Guided by Glimcher’s six decades of pioneering exhibition-making and steadfast commitment to close collaboration with artists, 125 Newbury presents up to five exhibitions per year, with a focus on both thematic group shows as well as solo exhibitions by emerging, established, and historical artists. The 125 Newbury team is led by directors Arne Glimcher, Kathleen McDonnell, Talia Rosen, and Oliver Shultz, who work together to develop cutting-edge and thought-provoking exhibitions that reflect a global, cross-generational perspective.