Sean Scully - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    David McKee Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    Ridgefield, The Aldrich – Contemporary Art Museum, Selections from a Private Collection, 25 June – 8 August, 1989; New York, Everson Museum of Art, Selections from a Private Collection, 12 April – 29 September, 1996; Florida, The Harn Museum of Art, Inner Eye: Contemporary Art From A Private Collection, 22 March, 1998 – 1 March, 1999; Knoxville, Knoxville Museum of Art, Spring 1999; Georgia Museum of Art, Summer 1999; Norfolk, The Chrysler Museum of Art, Inner Eye: Contemporary Art from the Marc and Livia Straus Collection, 28/29 October, 1999-2 January, 2000; Purchase, Neuberger Museum of Art, Inner Eye: Contemporary Art from the Marc and Livia Straus Collection, 30 January-16 April, 2000

  • Literature

    Exhibition Catalogue, Aldrich Museum, Selections from a Private Collection, Aldrich, 1989, p.25; Exhibition Catalogue, Harn Museum of Art, Inner Eye: Contemporary Art From a Private Collection, 1998, pp. 46 & 54 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Painting is connected to the past but I really believe that my painting is all about the future. Nothing is more profound and moving and exciting [than] make a contribution [to] the possibility of empathetic communication. The relationship between things in the world is what we still need to discover." (Sean Scully in Sean Scully, London, 2004, p.169)
    A linear artist and abstract expressionist, Sean Scully has been producing a vast array and body of work for which he has become complimented and recognized on the world stage as a leading painter. Born in Dublin but emigrated and inspired by America, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and his home country of Ireland, Scully's compositions of lines and re-structured canvas' communicate a heightened sense of emotional perception. Through his choice of colours and strokes, Scully has placed himself amongst great painters and influences like Rothko, Pollock and Cezanne are all notable figures within his work.
    Constructing relationships in the act of painting, without knowing how his pictures will resolve, Scully often honestly shows conflict. Scully's interest Unity is achieved only after taking into account rupture of these transforming moments, and the possibility of lasting deep internal discord. Imperfections, faults, and mistakes all have their parts to play.
    Inspiration like the light in his photographs of decrepit London doors and Santo Domingo shacks reveal Scully's attention to transforming moments. The passage of time and decay within the public realm, people's homes and shop fronts become a correlation to Scully's work and a clear attachment to his final products. Slabs of torn wood and chipped paint become reproduced with the careful attention Scully applies to the canvas with his linear approach, nostalgic yet profoundly elegant in their rough and consequential manner.
    For Sean Scully, a quintessential Romantic always ready to struggle, beauty is not at home in this world. He mentions: "Beauty is not beautiful, it is tragic. Beauty stands alone. It doesn't collaborate with the ‘what already is', the ‘status quo' as does the decorative and the ornamental whose purpose is to ‘lift' what already is. Beauty never collaborates: it separates itself. It stands in opposition. As an example of what is lost in life, and of our failure to make a beautiful world. This is the tragedy of beauty in art. It is exiled."(D. Carrier, S. Scully, Sean Scully, London, April, 2003)
    During 1985 when the present lot was executed, Scully's craft and style had already matured into a symbolic reversal of canvases within the square, a careful selection of interlacing hues, his recognizable stripes sitting next to each other on one canvas or on separate panels, and a further development of his technique he called ‘doubleness'.
    In Evens, colour establishes a close relationship between the three panels, linking the horizontal stripes on the left to the narrow painting in the middle, each individual in their posture and together forming a harmony of lines which Scully utilizes as both a pictorial device and as a means of re-ordering the perceptual world as well as inner moods. The darker tints on the left side of the painting meet in the middle panel with the clash from the lighter and more fluid hues on the right.
    Exposing the mystery of ambivalence and uncertainty; seeking to portray the richness of life via the relationships between colours of his characteristically dark and understated palette, the reduction of formal elements and recognizable figures, the linear rhythms at times produce a portrayal of musical expression delivered through painting. In an interview with Kevin Power, Scully has explained his relationship to music. During the development of his career in New York City after his move there in 1975, Jazz and Miles Davis were popular sounds filling the streets of the hustling town. Working with music and having once owned a blues bar, the artist is quoted as saying: "It is sometimes said that all art aspires to the condition of music. I would like my art to aspire to something like the condition of music, but a condition that can be felt and experienced in a deep moment. I think with painting you can get rid of the problem of time. You can feel it abstracted in the rhythms, in the layers of the painting, but you are, for a moment, free."(Sean Scully interviewed by Kevin Power in Sean Scully, London, 2004, p.211)
    Indeed Scully's work is almost like a musical genre, the modulations, cadence, carefully metered lines, sometimes loose and organic, all measured closely to each other producing a composition of color chords which to the eye evoke sensations that produce an invisible sound.
    "I do believe abstraction is and was meant to embody deep emotion. I believe that's its job in the history of art. The edges of the characters and forms in my paintings should lie against and with each other, with complexity and emotional depth. Naturally, one feels time in my work, because it's layered. It is repainted many times, in different colors and weights of paint, always by me. I do so until somehow everything lives, however gracefully or awkwardly, in its right place. So it's a façade that submits to feeling or is overwhelmed by it, since nothing is perfect."(Sean Scully in Sean Scully, London, 2004, p.210)



Oil on canvas.
214.6 x 346.8 x 14.6 cm. (84 1/2 x 136 1/2 x 5 3/4 in).
Signed, titled, and dated ‘EVENS Sean Scully 1985' on the reverse.

£400,000 - 600,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £457,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm