Sean Scully Unveils His Bespoke Chapel Outside Barcelona

Sean Scully

The Turner Prize nominated international artist Sean Scully, has revealed his sublime, completely bespoke chapel housed in the recently renovated Romanesque Church of Santa Cecília de Montserrat, outside Barcelona. It was unveiled today, Tuesday 30 June 2015, on the artist’s 70th birthday. 

The chapel now joins other important examples of single artist commissions, such as the Matisse Chapel in Saint Paul de Vence, France, the Rothko Chapel in Houston Texas and the Cocteau Chapel, in London’s Soho. Mr Scully’s accomplishment is by far the most impressive of these churches, as the actual original building is sensitively used to incorporated the magnificent works of art.  The artist has created a series of  frescoes which are the culmination of his ten-year relationship with the church. The building has been transformed with wall paintings, stained glass windows and sacred altarpiece objects formed in wrought iron. The tourchiers on the altar are reminiscent of the large scale sculpture created for his China exhibitions last year.  

Scully has successfully used the space to create atmosphere perfect for contemplation and meditation. This is in no doubt a highly spiritual place, which resonates on entering the chapel. He has chosen the theme of the Holly-Stationes series as a personal interpretation of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. This is in memory of his mother, Ivy, known to her friends and family as Holly. The project was conceived shortly after her death. In 2012. Both of Mr Scully’s parents lived out their last years in Spain. Cecilia, the patron saint of music is also celebrated in this very contemporary yet traditional chapel.  In 2015, he returned to this theme with his second Cecília (Landline Cecilia), suggesting the saint’s serene yet vital spirit. These were followed by triptych Doric Nyx, and the major work, Barcelona Wall of Light Pink in 2013. These paintings are complemented with eight stained glass windows and the artist has also created a beautiful glass cross for the altar and sidewalls, plus four chandeliers.

Scully has given these works to the church out of his respect for the thousand-year-old Monastery of Montserrat, a community which has great meaning for him because of its faith and spirituality, its emphasis on culture, love of art and music, and commitment to human rights and freedom. His work makes Santa Cecília unique for its magnificent fusion of Christianity and avant-garde art.

Sean Scully has had many major solo exhibitions worldwide. In 2001, his Painting, Drawings, Photographs 1990-2001 exhibition travelled from the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf to the Haus Der Kunst, Munich and to IVAM, Valencia. Between 2005 and 2007, Sean Scully: Wall of Light, curated by Stephen Phillips, was shown in The Phillips Collection, Washington DC; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas; the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Most recently, Follow the Heart, a large-scale retrospective curated by Phillip Dodd began at the Shanghai Himalayas Art Museum in 2014 before travelling to the CAFA Museum in Beijing this year. Further solo exhibitions in 2015 include the Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin and Palazzo Falier at the Venice Biennale. 

 Words/Photos PC Robinson © Artlyst 2015


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