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Sean Scully - Small Union Yellow, 1997, oil on canvas laid down on wood, 60 x 90 cm. Titled, signed and dated verso.
I hold to a very Romantic ideal of what’s possible in art, and I hold to the idea of the personal universal (…) I’m going against the current trend towards bizarreness, oddness’ — Sean Scully (countrylife.co.uk)
A son of Dublin and South London, Sean Scully's five-decade career has seen him become on of our most admired living artists. Fusing the traditions of European painting with the distinct character of American abstraction, Scully's great achievement is the reinvigoration of abstract painting with the metaphorical, the philosophical and the sublime, combined with the earthy tangibility of paint.
In the 1980s, Scully moved away from his precisely gridded works of the 1970s to create a uniquely sculptural form of painting, consisting of monumental, interconnected three-dimensional panels worked in strong earthy colours with hand-drawn lines and stripes. Subtly figurative despite their resolute abstraction, the 80s works powerfully suggest fragility and fallibility.
Sean Scully - Untitled 1980, oil on board, 31.7 x 15.9 cm, signed and dated verso
In the 1990s Scully embarked on his now celebrated 'Wall of Light' paintings. Described as 'visual utopias' by David Carrier, these works were the subject of a major touring exhibition culminating at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2007. Taking inspiration from a visit to Mexico in the early 1980s, Scully began to replace the precise stripes of his earlier work with blocks of colour, building them with increasingly loose and feathered brushstrokes into irregular structures that imply both strength and impermanence.
In more recent years the artist has returned to sculpture, working with Corten and stainless steel to produce powerful structures that both assert and subert their materiality. Three distinct painting series have emerged concurrently. The majestic Doric paintings pay homage to ancient Greece as the birthplace of democracy and Western civilisation and have formed the basis of a touring exhibition traveling from the Benaki Museum, Athens to IVAM, Valencia, and The Hugh Lane, Dublin. More intimate in size and mood, works in the Cut Ground series draw upon an episode from the artist's own childhoold and hiw growing disclocation with the Catholic Church while the growing Landline series explores notions of landscape and history through horizontal bands of vibrating colour. Continuing Scully's rejuvination of the abstract with the everyday, these new paintings emphatically demonstrate his underlying belief that life and painting are acts of perpetual discovery and rediscovery.
Diagonal series no. 1, 1973 signed and dated 'Sean Scully 73', inscribed 'Diagonals 1', pencil, acrylic and tape on paper, 66.1 x 100.9 cm
Diagonal series no. 3, 1973, signed and dated 'Sean Scully 73', pencil, acrylic and tape on paper, 56 x 79 cm
Night, 2005, aquatint with sugarlift and spit bite, ed. 13 of 40, 18 x 22 inches
Scully’s work is held in numerous public collections including, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth; Tate, London; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K20K21, Düsseldorf; Albertina, Vienna; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Instituto Valencia d’Arte Modern, Valencia; Guangzhou Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China and China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China.
Sean Scully was elected a Royal Academician in 2013. He has been shortlisted for the Turner Prize twice, in 1989 and in 1993. A major retrospective toured multiple venues in China between 2015 - 2017.
Green Ascending, 1991, woodcut printed in colours on handmade wove paper, signed, titled, dated and numbered 8 of 20 in pencil, published by Garner Tullis Workshop, NY, 87.3 x 107 cm