Sean Scully: New Exhibition Resistance and Persistence To Tour China

Sean Scully

The Irish born, Turner Prize nominated painter Sean Scully, whose work has been touring China for the last year and a half has been voted the Number 1 exhibition of 2015, by the influential Beijing News. I had the privilege of seeing Mr Scully’s exhibition, ‘Follow The Heart’ in Shanghai 14 months ago and was not only impressed by the scale and depth of the body of work on display, but I was also struck by how well it fit into the changing face of today’s China. Abstraction speaks to people in different ways and the universality of Sean’s work has been embraced by a whole new generation of young art enthusiasts.  The show travelled to Beijing where it was equally well received and now the artist’s work will be shown in a second wave of exhibitions titled, ‘Resistance and Persistence’ which will tour across China. 

Scully’s new exhibition for China, Resistance and Persistence will be shown at: Art Museum of the Nanjing University of the Arts (8 April – 8 May 2016) Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou (6 September – 9 October 2016) Hubei Museum of Art, Wuhan (10 January – 12 March 2017) As China becomes increasingly globalised, and more intrigued by the history of modern Western art, Resistance and Persistence will look at Sean Scully’s engagement with Western art history and his own major contribution to the history of modern and contemporary art. This will offer an important complementary viewpoint to his previous exhibitions in China, which had positioned Scully in relationship to Asian aesthetics. The catalogue will include three of Scully’s own essays on Rothko, van Gogh and Morandi.

Showcasing more than 60 works by Scully, the exhibitions will focus on his paintings and works on paper – as well as providing a stage for Sean Scully’s extraordinary sculpture China Piled Up. The works have been borrowed from public and private collections and do not overlap with the works previously seen in China.This second wave of exhibitions by Scully will travel to three of the great cities of modern China, its former capital Nanjing, the most powerful city in Southern China Guangzhou and Wuhan, where art is increasingly becoming a major preoccupation, as it is clear from the opening of a new private museum, to complement the important Hubei Museum of Art. 

According to Wang Chunchen, Research Director at the central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Scully’s exhibition is probably the first of a Western artist to have made a difference to Chinese art since a show by Rauschenberg in the mid-1980s. Targeting, amongst others, artists, a student audience, the large and increasing number of collectors in these cities as well as the general public the exhibition further aims to develop abstract art in China. The exhibitions are coming at an interesting moment for a major abstract artist like Scully as Chinese abstract art is generating increasing national and international attention, a development which is also reflected in Scully’s success in the art market. We can only hope that this wonderful show will follow on to Europe and The US. 

Sean Scully was born in Dublin in 1945 and was brought up in London and immigrated to the States in 1975. He currently lives and works in New York, Barcelona, and outside Munich. He studied painting at the Croydon College of Art (London) and Newcastle University (England), received a graduate Fellowship  at Harvard University in 1973, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1983, and Honorary Degrees, Doctorate of Fine Arts from The Massachusetts College of Art (Boston) and the National University of Ireland (Dublin). He has been the Turner Prize nominee at Tate London twice, in 1989 and 1993.

The tour of exhibitions is organised by Made in China in association with Kewenig Gallery and the British Council.

Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2015