Hamilton Gallery: Poetic Contours
Jeffrey Sully's work stands out for its experimentation with form. His canvases are sculptural and play with our expectations of the relationship between positive and negative space. His color palette runs either extremely hot or extremely cool, with vibrant reds and yellows in one artwork providing productive tension against the blues and greens in another. This deft play with space, shape, and color, however, is only the beginning of Sully's experimentation with form because what is especially striking is his use of line. His paintings take on the feel of a contour drawing, with the shaped edges of the stretched canvases curving in and out in calligraphic fashion and refusing the restrictions of a rectangle. Even as the outside edges suggest sophisticated contour lines, the activity on and within the canvas is equally intriguing, either through cut outs in the center of the canvas, or through expressive brushwork across its flat surface. The gallery wall becomes part of the artwork when it is revealed through a hole in the canvas or fills up the deep curves of a painting's outer edges. Once the viewer gets used to the unusual shapes of Sully's paintings, the artworks take on a somewhat poetic meaning. The paintings seem like letters in a foreign language, or even punctuation marks asking us to pause, to stop, or to exclaim. Sully's artwork titles, with references to Sumer, dust, rebirth, or tide suggest that the artworks are in the process of change, as if they could be remnants of a past and powerful civilization, objects subject to the forces of nature, or gestures toward yet unknown possibilities.