Kind of Red: An Ode to Jazz in the Paintings of Sean Scully
Property of an Important American Collector
From the Catalogue:
Painted in 2013, Sean Scully’s Wall of Light Green presents the viewer with a group of bars and columns that shimmer and vibrate with colour. The paint has been applied in a gestural way, with the artist’s sweeping movements viscerally evident in the visible traces of each individual brushstroke. The various sections do not have hard borders: instead, they bleed into each other, creating intriguing, delicate plays of colour. At the same time, a light ground is fleetingly glimpsed through some of the paint, introducing a luminosity that cuts to the heart of Scully’s notion of the Wall of Light.
This was the title of a series of works begun in the late 1990s, and originally inspired by earlier trips Scully had made to Mexico. There, he had been struck by the play of intense light on the stone walls of the Mayan ruins, and this came to underpin the Wall of Light series, which in 2006 became the subject of Scully’s first one-man museum show, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in his adopted home, New York. The Mayan walls came to serve as a springboard for explorations of the walls and light in a number of places— while anchored in his experiences in Mexico, paintings such as Wall of Light Green were inspired by places around the world, not least the cities in which Scully lives and works—New York, Barcelona and Munich.
From early in his artistic career, Scully had been painting in a grid-like format, focusing on the horizontal and the vertical as universal elements, common visual denominators, originally fusing ideas from Abstract Expressionism with an aesthetic that recalled Minimalism. The experiences Scully encountered in Mexico helped push his paintings further from Minimalism, towards a more evocative, lyrical realm. This is clearly in evidence in Wall of Light Green, both in its palette and its application, with the various forms creating an arresting visual rhythm. Scully has deliberately avoided symmetry or an over-reliance on regularity to create a painting in which the blocks of colour are held together with a vivid, vital tension. The horizontal and vertical bars of colour serve as a formal architecture, a common denominator, upon which he is able to build his own subjective and ultimately expressive vision.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Signature: signed, titled, and dated '"WALL OF LIGHT GREEN" Sean Scully 2013' on the reverse
Timothy Taylor, London
Acquired directly from the artist
Demonstrating an unwavering commitment to abstraction, Sean Scully’s paintings and works on paper combine an underlying geometric structure with soft edges and uneven application of pigment. Scully’s compositions often employ stripes, grids, and dark, earthy tones, as seen in early watercolors where Scully allowed the paint to puddle and overlap with a larger stripe motif. This integration of structured composition with the idiosyncrasies of the chosen medium is typical of Scully’s work; the artist has described this duality as a “battle between system and emotion.”
Irish, b. 1945, Dublin, Ireland