“My paintings talk of relationships. How bodies come together. How they touch. How they separate. How they live together, in harmony and disharmony. The character of bodies changes constantly through my work. According to color. The opacity and transparency of how the surface is made. This gives it its character and its nature. Its edge defines its relationship to its neighbor and how it exists in context. My paintings want to tell stories that are an abstracted equivalent of how the world of human relationships is made and unmade. How it is possible to evolve as a human being, in this.”  Sean Scully

Sean Scully, "Red Sky"

Sean Scully, “Red Sky”

When I first saw Scully’s paintings I was struck by their physicality. These are big objects. Frequently the stretchers are quite deep.   Not only does he paint blocks of color that are stacked one on top of the other, but he also physically builds paintings into paintings. One stretched canvas is inserted into a hole in another canvas. A completely seperate entity inserted into the picture plane. The paint is viseral, thick, lucious, complex, layered, Like nature itself. But then, the big surprise: These paintings are filled with light. So, when you look at these blocks of color you think about what kind of light and even what kind of weather they exist in.

Sean Scully, "Moorland"

Sean Scully, “Moorland”

Sean Scully

Sean Scully

Looking at some of Scully’s photos, you do get a sense that this notion of place, light and atmosphere is not foreign to him.

Sean Scully, "Inis Oirr Vl" , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6 cm

Sean Scully, “Inis Oirr Vl” , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6 cm

Sean Scully, Inis Oirr Vl , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6

Sean Scully, Inis Oirr Vl , 2005, black and white photograph, 56.7 x 72.6

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Cubed, 2007, granite, Aix en Provence, France

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Cubed, 2007, granite, Aix en Provence, France

They are not just paintings about how things look in nature, but about how they behave — body next to body, stone next to stone.

Sean Scully, "End of Day"

Sean Scully, “End of Day”

Sean Scully, 1.1.08, 2008, pastel on paper, 56.8 x 76.6 cm

Sean Scully, 1.1.08, 2008, pastel on paper, 56.8 x 76.6 cm

 

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