This exhibition is accompanied by a 64-page, full-color catalogue that includes an essay by poet and critic John Yau and a foreword by Peter Goulds.
Sean Scully and I both grew up in North London, so our paths could easily have crossed, and perhaps they did. Actually, we met in Los Angeles during the 1970s, and 25 years later, commenced our professional relationship. For me, the wait was well worthwhile. Not only am I now associated with one of the most important abstract painters of our time, but also enjoy the good fortune to be engaged with a complex intellectual mind from whom there is much to learn. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to attend one of Sean Scully’s lectures will be able to appreciate this point of view.
In John Yau’s catalogue essay, first published in France and revised here on the occasion of this exhibition, we are presented with many associations of ideas which serve to open doors to our greater understanding of Sean Scully’s work. I am very grateful to John for his superb text. However, there is no substitute for looking at and spending time with the paintings. Fortunately, with the high degree of international curatorial interest in Sean’s work, we have been able to experience his paintings, watercolors and pastel drawings in many museum venues all over the world. Currently, in the United States, a survey of Sean’s recent work, entitled “Wall of Light,” recently traveled from the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., to the Fort Worth Museum of Art, and continues on to the Cincinnati Art Museum this summer, en route to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. With such an exhibition, a great deal can be learned about the artist’s work from the unique nature of each installation. Simply stated, paintings can take on new identities, or indeed reveal themselves to appear differently from our previous understanding by their presentation within the geography of each new space. In Fort Worth, I came upon a vertical painting entitled, Barcelona White Bar, 2004, from the collection of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden at the University of Nebraska, which, in its structure, implies the presence of a figure. At the Phillips, this observation escaped my attention. I believe that in this painting lies the key to our current exhibition, both in its physical and formal appearance. In Sean Scully’s recent paintings, we can also find that the intersections between the rectangular shapes collide and “bleed” from their grounds within the picture plane.
It may come as a surprise to learn that much of the inspiration for Sean Scully’s current work comes from spending time with Caravaggio’s paintings in Rome. Caravaggio’s use of translucent color serves to sustain our gaze, thereby allowing the dramas depicted to radiate all manner of emotions. These feelings overwhelm their figurative narrative and provide the viewer with an abstract experience, rendering his paintings timeless.
I would like to thank Sean Scully for this beautiful exhibition, and for our association. After all of these years, it is a great privilege to represent him and his work in California.
Paris, 5 March 2006