Existing at the intersection of several media, including painting, drawing and writing, this work is effectively a palimpsest, or a paper built up through successive layers of mark-making and erasure. It was created through a meditative process—radically meticulous and so elaborate that it has a devotional quality—that encodes the resulting composition with a personal and idiosyncratic language. First, the artist applies oil stick to a sheet of newsprint and then thins it out with a silk screen squeegee until it resembles something like carbon paper. Then the artist places a piece of found paper, usually from an old book, face down on top of the oil transfer sheet. Sullivan then makes a drawing on the reverse side of the found paper with a ballpoint pen. Each color in a finished piece is represented by a different sheet of oil transfer paper in what Sullivan describes as “a hybrid sort of drawing/printmaking process.”
Sean Sullivan’s work exists at the intersection of several media, including painting, drawing and writing. The artist places a piece of found paper face down on top of a color transfer sheet marked with oil stick, and then makes a drawing on the reverse side of the found paper with a ballpoint pen; each color in a finished piece is represented by a different sheet of oil transfer paper in a sort of hybrid process of drawing and printmaking. Sullivan’s compact works are similar to haiku, as they are created through a specific set of procedures and parameters, yet ultimately become limitless in their deft play.