Sean Scully is to create an ambitious new exhibition of both his paintings and his less known three-dimensional works, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in September.
Exploring concepts of landscape and abstraction with human experience, the exhibition unites sculpture with important recent paintings on aluminium and linen, together with works on paper. Drawing out ideas pertinent to the singularity of YSP and its landscape, this is a poetic, robust experience that embraces the Park’s topography and Scully’s exceptional vigour, as well as his belief that in life and art there is perpetual discovery.
Inside Outside is the largest-ever presentation of his sculptures and the first exhibition of sculpture and painting in the UK.
The exhibition presents an artist at the height of his powers. Aged 72, it is evident that there is no curtailment of Scully’s energy, drive and vision. Keenly aware of the labour that dominated the lives of his mining family, Scully’s practice is one of great rigour and toil, his output prodigious. For YSP he will make new painting and sculpture – resolutely contemporary works that will integrate an inclination towards geometry with the romantic sincerity of landscape painting in the historical tradition.
Over the past 15 years, Scully has returned to sculpture, working in steel and stone to make powerful structures that both assert and subvert their materiality. His now celebrated Wall of Light paintings from the 1990s – structures formed from irregular blocks of colour that imply both strength and impermanence – have materialised into the massive sculpture, Wall of Light Cubed (2018). Similarly, Scully’s enormous Boxes of Air (2018) sculpture in welded steel is uncompromising, defined by rusted steel horizontal and vertical frames that are ‘boxes of air’ – air that constantly changes and transforms with the seasons, times of the day, and weather. Respectively sited in YSP’s historic landscape – the formal Lower Park and more rugged Country Park – these vast metallic and stone sculptures demand a physical trek across the landscape that is extended further uphill through the former hunting ground of the Bretton Estate to Longside Gallery. The experience of walking between the sculptures and gallery thereby matching the energy and physicality of the exhibition.
A former horse-riding school, Longside Gallery is a large light-filled square space, overlooking the 18th-century parkland through enormous windows. Measuring over 8m in length and 2.8m in height, Scully’s exceptional painting Blue Note (2016) will occupy the principal wall, grounding the entire installation with a series of six alternately coloured and striped aluminium panels. Blue Note is a summation of themes Scully has been rehearsing for many years; a lodestar to his practice. Especially for YSP, and in response to the Yorkshire landscape, Scully is developing further Landline paintings, a series he began in 2013 in which he references liminal spaces – where land meets sky, sea, river, wall – with almost all vertical forms removed to create, “a side-to-side motion”.
Sean Scully is considered one of the world’s leading abstract painters. Born in 1945 in Dublin and raised in London, he now lives in New York and Germany. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2013 and was twice shortlisted for the Turner Prize, in 1989 and 1993. He has shown in the world’s most important museums and galleries and had a major retrospective which toured multiple venues in China from 2015–2017. Scully’s work is held in numerous public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 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, Fort Worth; Tate, London; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K20K21, Düsseldorf; Albertina, Vienna; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Instituto Valencia d’Arte Modern, Valencia; Guangzhou Museum of Art, Guangzhou and China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China.
Sean Scully: 1970, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK, 14 July–14 October 2018.
Matisse / Scully, KEWENIG, Berlin, Germany, 6 September–27 October 2018.
Sean Scully: Landline, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, USA, 12 September 2018–6 January 2019.