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Derek Sullivan

Derek Sullivan – “After the life for the most part”

Book covers have always fascinated me, the colors, textures, the way they try to represent with one image the many pages of stories that are to be discovered inside. For that reason it was a great pleasure to come across Derek Sullivan’s work last month at Art Basel, Miami.

After the life for the most part” is a series of photographs of layered compositions that the Canadian artist created combining the covers of books that he had in his studio library. That combination of titles, words, colors and patterns creates a story of its own, all of them tinted with a pop art palette.

Sullivan’s work pays homage to Ronald Brooks Kitaj’s silkscreen seriesIn Our Time: Covers for a Small Library After the Life for the Most Part, 1969-70,” a collection of enlargements of book covers taken from the library of the American artists. Despite the similarity, Sullivan digs deeper and starts a conversation between different titles and aesthetics.  “My prints borrow his process (and a portion of his title) and layers the enlarged covers isto stacked compositions. A bookshelf creates countless ghost narratives in what can be imagined in the juxtaposition of titles, one can imagine a trajectory of reading, a phantom subject,” states Sullivan.  

My favorite picture of the series is the one featuring Nabokov’s selection of works “The Portable”. The black and white face of the Russian writer seems to be contemplating and approving the piece from the shadows and it makes a dramatic contrast with the red background. The horizontal placement of the covers also creates a feeling of discomfort to the eye which I could say is the “imperfection” of the piece that makes it more enchanting.

Take a tour through Derek Sullivan’s library!

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