Ryan Sullivan, Installation view, BLUM Los Angeles, 2024, Photo: Ed Mumford

Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan

May 18 – June 29, 2024
Los Angeles


Ryan Sullivan’s (b. 1983, Malone, NY) work commingles painting’s formal concerns and sculpture’s preoccupation with materiality. Where traditional painting builds out from the canvas, covering or obscuring the gestures that preceded, Sullivan’s process functions in the inverse—the first layer of resin forms the work’s initial structure and, later, becomes the object’s face. Thin and flat, unlike any oil or acrylic on stretched canvas ever could be, these resin paintings—with their smooth, matte surface—flaunt the duality of their station, defying art’s conventionally divided medium specificities of painting and sculpture.

Using a liquid urethane, Sullivan initiates his resin casts by distributing this material within a rectangular, silicone mold on the floor. Each pour, brushstroke, or application of pigment is a unique gesture—unable to be replicated or restaged—for which the finished work, after curing overnight, becomes a receipt frozen in time and evidencing its own making. Sullivan reveals and encounters the work’s composition for the first time once it sets and is no longer subject to change—each work an anomaly intuited into being. These unique circumstances—the three-dimensionality of the material, its drying speed, and the inverted image-making—all create novel problems that the artist must solve.

Once framed and hung to command the wall space that paintings have long occupied, the tonal quality, movement, and spatial tension confound expectation. With the artist’s unique process, the formal properties historically attributed to painting—focal points, light and shadow, palette—remain hallmarks despite their having been produced by a vehicle less often associated with this format. Though painting might be judged for its depictions—the world it creates—Sullivan’s resins are inseparable from the materiality that grants them their aesthetic qualities; in this way and within this discourse, they are paradoxically both resonant and solipsistic.

Similar to sculptors, Sullivan’s work is constructed via a material that structures itself, allowing it to function in dimensional space. The artist forms elegant mass from resin—slowly compounding upon nothing in order to fabricate impossibly slim objects that are composed of their own process and appear as if suspended in mid-gesture. Painting on canvas is additive, but its core purpose is more so about what it portrays over its components. Sullivan’s output acknowledges art’s previously discrete ontologies relating to medium, and unflinchingly moves beyond them. Sculpting resin in a flat space is how Sullivan composes paintings—instinctually laying down an image and repeating the act until solid materiality can be achieved. These works crystallize their own spatial conjuring and behave as non-traditional paintings that, despite appearing as abstractions, categorize as material realism.

Ryan Sullivan studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. Sullivan was the subject of a significant solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL in 2015 with an accompanying catalog. The artist’s work has also been featured in exhibitions at public institutions, including Abstraction (re)creation, Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2024); Aspen Art Week, Aspen Museum, Aspen, CO (2022); En Plein Air, The High Line, New York, NY (2019); Black Hole. Art and Materiality from Informal to Invisible, GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (2018); Good Dreams, Bad Dreams, Aïshti Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon (2016); New York Painting, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2015); Surface Tension, FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY (2015); Empire State, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rom­­e, Italy (2013), and Greater New York, MoMA PS1, Queens, NY (2010). Work by Sullivan is represented in numerous public collections including Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA; ­­­Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; RISD Museum of Art, Providence, RI; Rubell Museum, Miami, FL; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, among others. Sullivan lives and works in New York, NY. 

Selected Works


Ryan Sullivan and Suzanne Hudson in Conversation


Ocula | In Los Angeles, Abstraction Takes Centre Stage


Brooklyn Rail | Ryan Sullivan and Jason Rosenfeld, with Kelly Hoffer


T Magazine | Ryan Sullivan Scales Up


Interview Magazine | Ryan Sullivan


Kaleidoscope | Ryan Sullivan


Related Publications

Ryan Sullivan: Resin Paintings

Ryan Sullivan: Sprayed Paintings

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