Derek Sullivan

1976 -Interested in the legacy of late Modernist art history and design, Toronto based artist Derek Sullivan replays and intermixes art historical and wider cultural references in his production of artist books, drawings, sculptures and ephemeral installations. Sullivan received his BFA from York University in 1999 and his MFA from the University of Guelph in 2002. Begun in 2006, Sullivan’s Poster Drawings series developed out of his interest in artists’ appropriation of vernacular patterns, surface finishes and graphic forms that through repeated use became a signature style in their work. Taking the dimensions of a typical large, bedroom size poster, the series’ compositions are reminiscent of graphic design and cite formal elements of Modernism. This formalism is contrasted by Sullivan’s use of coloured pencil and idiosyncratic mark making which infuse the drawings with a handmade, low-tech aesthetic at odds with typical poster production. The poster analogy is further reinforced in that each drawing can be read as a kind of gesture of fandom towards particular artists or other cultural figures. The series includes homage to Bridget Riley’s optical pattern paintings, Daniel Buren’s stripes, Martin Kippenberger’s use of gingham fabric in paintings among others. The titles offer clues as to the artist’s associations for each drawing, and grow with the addition of a new title and striking out of the former title (which still remains readable) each time that the work is exhibited until it enters a collection (at which point the title becomes fixed), #25, Well Hung Snow White Tan, Cadmium Light Red People, The Measure (2007).