New Sean Scully Exhibition Provides Insight Into The Working Artist’s Notebooks

Sean Scully – “I was always looking at the horizon line…One day I was standing off Ireland, on the edge of Aran Is- land, looking out. Next stop, America. Standing on the Old World looking out at….the New World, as many people have done before…. I think of land, sea, sky… I try to paint this, this sense of the elemental coming together of land and sea, sky and land, of blocks coming together side by side and stacked in horizon lines endlessly beginning and ending – the way the blocks of the world hug each other and brush up against each other, their weight, their air, their colour, and the soft uncertain space between them” 

Six new paintings from Sean Scully’s from his Landlines series; a body of work that has preoccupied the artist since 2013 will be presented at the Timothy Taylor Gallery in London from next week. The works will be exhibited alongside a selection of 24 drawn-notes – individual pages in Scully’s written hand – that allow insights into the mind of the artist and his personal process.

Sean Scully
Sean Scully, artist’s notebook

In the unique display of dozens of drawn-written pages in Scully’s hand that alluringly entangle the grammars of image and word, insight is offered into the mind of the living master and his personal process. Those unfamiliar with the artist’s effortlessly aphoristic turns of phrase will find inscribed into these sheets the same fierce grace with which Scully’s paintings are articulated.

Scully is one of the most admired contemporary abstract painters, easily recognised for his distinct striped paintings. Early in his career, Scully’s works comprised tightly-controlled grids involving multiple layers of precise stripes. A move to New York in the 1970s ruptured this grid, inspiring the artist’s first paintings of singularly horizontal elements. By the 1980s however, Scully began to experiment with the formal constraints of painting, creating sculptural works where the stripe expanded to become a building block, ultimately paving the way to the artist’s celebrated Wall of Light paintings of the 1990s.


Sean Scully
Sean Scully, artist’s notebook Timothy Taylor Gallery


Since 2013, Scully has intensified his focus on the Landlines series. Composed of wide horizontal stripes, that in the absence of any vertical architecture lean into and against each other, these paintings offer the viewer an uncertain, infinite space. These modular forms become units to be deployed; abutted, inset and interlocked against each other, whilst the choice of an aluminium ground keeps the brushwork fluid, capturing the rhythm of the artist at work. For Scully, a particular concern has consistently been the quest for expressive power within the application of his deliberately restricted repertoire of motifs. As the artist states, “at some time in the evolution of the surface, something more emotional has to happen.”

In Scully’s paintings, the catalyst in charging formal rigour with emotional content has been the application of liberated brushwork, which charges even the liminal spaces where forms and colours meet with meaning.

Inspired by the artist’s perpetual travelling as well as the landscapes glimpsed from his multiple studio spaces, these works are infused with a shifting range of emotions and associations, articulated through a sophisticated command of colour: shocks of vibrant red against greying flesh-toned reds and muted, blunt greys, as in Landline Red Veined (2016) and pulsating blues in Landline Blue Veined (2016). (See Top Photo)

Scully was Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1945. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2013 and has been shortlisted for the Turner Prize twice, in 1989 and in 1993. Scully lives and works in New York, Barcelona and Munich.

Scully’s work is held in the world’s most prominent public collections including, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 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, Texas; Tate, London; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K20K21, Düsseldorf; Albertina, Vienna; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and Instituto Valencia d’Arte Modern, Valencia.

Sean Scully: Horizon 2 November – 17 December 2016 Timothy Taylor Gallery London

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