Work from “Dropping Syllables” at Matthew, Berlin.
“On the exterior of Mathew, the colors of the Jamaican flag wrap the side window, projecting to the surrounding neighborhood. In the moment of the FIFA World Cup, flags call messages throughout the cityscape.
Based on a version of artist Tom Burr’s Screens, The J-Board is a mirrored paravent at the gallery’s entrance. While Burr explores and constitutes an autobiographical complex in his work, Sullivan shrugs off the affirmation of an ‘I’ by inventing an arbitrary system of identification—shifted down one letter to ‘J’. Michael Jordon, Jill Johnson, jury duty, Michael J. Fox, and the Jamaican flag are sudden affiliates. The mirrored surface on the front of the folding object catches the hedges beyond the gallery window and situates the viewer in the scene of the large-scale painting oppo- site.
The Untitled painting is based on a work by Rosa Bonheur, the French artist born in 1822, whose monumental painting The Horse Fair (1853) hangs prominently in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rosa Bonheur made The Horse Fair in the mid-1850s, early in her career. It was an immediate success. Subsequently, Bonheur seemed less interested in the making of masterpieces than the pursuit of her own eccentric version of artistic existence.
A chateau in Fontainebleau hosted all sorts of exotic animals for her to paint, and she is said to have enjoyed consistent demand for her animal portraits from prominent supporters. Manipulated at will to update and alter its narrative screen, Sullivan’s reenactment of the painting was a performance of a flamboyant fantasy of the masterpiece.
In the office are a series of works on paper, Stags #1-4. Based on motifs found in the 1900 catalogue raisonné of Rosa Bonheur produced by gallerist Georges Petit of Paris, the stags in the woods might, in a non-linear reading, suggest an innuendo to gay cruising.
Underlying the works are arcs of expression that involve acts of making, using, and shuffling; not loyal or invested in ideas of identity or time, they employ references and symbols that undermine and renew their signifying possibilities.” – Matthew