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Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

Mark Flood on Ryan Sullivan

Mark Flood, Boring Conceptual Crap, 2012	
Painting - Acrylic on canvas
(60 x 108 inches)
Mark Flood, Boring Conceptual Crap, 2012 Painting - Acrylic on canvas (60 x 108 inches)

Mark Flood on Ryan Sullivan

I saw the new Ryan Sullivan show…I caught the sensual impact of these epic conglomerations of cracked, flung and ran paint …as they drizzled and stormed across his huge zones of cracked, crumpled paint skins..

These works boggle the critical vocabulary. To belabor the obvious, they display dazzling, yet rude color….they suggest aerial views of alien planetary surfaces…they babble about previously unknown natural disasters and seem poised to reveal some profound but unfamilIar cosmic symbolism…

Lots of people paint and we’ve all seen lots and lots of painting, but …Sullivan’s command of the most threatening excesses of paint behavior – from massive horror-movie cracking to the disorienting slide of vast paint skins over subterranean paint-lava – is something I have never seen, perhaps something new.

Perhaps something rumored years ago by the fatally flawed experiments of Albert Pinkham Ryder, or something inferred by some of Polke’s alchemical explorations, or something I read once in a Burri cretti…

But yet something new, new and wonderful, wonderful in a way that can do without critical exposition and support, wonderful in a way each viewer can grasp and spell out for themselves…

How rare is it for a contemporary abstract painting to recall the celebrated dead idiom of AbEx, without suffering cruelly by the comparison?

But here it is…a new and brutal abstract paint language composing new and brutal poetry, for our tongue-tied, burned-out and unsentimental art-village.

Mark Flood is a painter based in New York, in 2015 he was in residence in Miami Beach.

Part of Idea 001: Event Aesthetics

Ambiguities of composition and facture are just two of the paradoxes presented by the work of Ryan Sullivan. Complicating the “events” of viewership and production, Sullivan’s paintings signal a longer and more complicated life for the object.