‘Seeing how things change as they dry keeps me coming in every morning. I wouldn’t want to learn how to control that. It’s really important to let a painting take on its own direction.’
Ryan Sullivan received wide acclaim for his debut show In Manhattan in 2012, a response which seems set to continue with his new show at Sadie Coles. Entitled ‘one minute’s music, one minute’s time’ the work sounds as if it should parallel the improvisational methods of jazz musicians. Perhaps it can be seen as a luminous form of synaesthesia, the music transmuted into colour, but it is a mistake to see it as a kind of equivalent.
They are made by pouring resin, mixed with industrial colour, into silicone moulds which are then left to harden. The process is repeated several times so that layers are built up. The results are paintings which seem to have originated from another planet, where space and time operate according to a different set of rules.
Perhaps the most beautiful is the one which evokes the tender melancholia of a jazz riff (image 1). A slither of palest coral hangs suspended at the top, while a veil of translucent greeny blue drifts gently downwards. Others are more dynamic and bursts of colour erupt wildly and then just hover.
What has been produced by a startlingly simple process results in surfaces that are quite different from any work that I have ever seen. These are truly exciting paintings and I urge you to go and see them for yourself.
Ryan Sullivan ‘one minute’s music, one minute’s time’ is at Sadie Coles, 62
Kingly Street, London W1B 5QN until 23 February.