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Intensely focused survey of Sean Scully's work opens at Timothy Taylor Gallery
Sean Scully, Change #7, 1975. Acrylic and tape on paper, 22 1/2 x 30 2/3 inches. Courtesy Neo Neo Inc, New York. Photo © Sean Scully.

LONDON.- The Drawing Center presents Sean Scully: Change and Horizontals, which begins its transcontinental tour at Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, from January 13–February 11, 2012, then travels to the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK, from March 2–July 8, 2012, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome from March 14 to June 9, 2013, and The Drawing Center, New York, from September 26–November 10, 2013.

This intensely focused survey is comprised of acrylic, ink, graphite, and masking-tape drawings from 1974–75—presented together for the first time in over 30 years—as well as two large-scale paintings from the same period and the artist’s personal notebooks. Selected from two distinct series, the Change and Horizontals drawings—executed in London and New York respectively—highlight the importance of color and form within Scully’s abstractions. Color is always rooted in a particular place, and form manifests the self.

Impressions of each city are fundamental to these drawings, as location plays a key role in the artist’s life and oeuvre; as the artist stated in 2006, “People tend to think of abstraction as abstract. But nothing is abstract: it’s a self-portrait. A portrait of one’s condition.” Scully’s move from London to New York City in 1975 marked a stylistic breakthrough to a period during which he became more engaged with the tones and textures of the metropolis that surrounded him. Sean Scully: Change and Horizontals is co-curated by Joanna Kleinberg and Brett Littman of The Drawing Center.

In a career spanning over thirty years, Sean Scully has gained international prominence as one of the most admired painters in the abstract tradition. Fusing the traditions of European painting with the distinct character of American abstraction, Scully’s great achievement is the reinvigoration of abstract painting with the metaphorical, the philosophical and the sublime combined with the earthy tangibility of pure paint.

In the 1980s, Scully moved away from his precisely gridded works of the 1970s, to create a uniquely sculptural form of painting: consisting of monumental interconnecting 3D panels worked in strong earthy colours with hand-drawn lines and stripes. Subtly figurative despite their resolute abstraction, their ‘humanity of imperfection’ as Sue Hubbard described it, powerfully suggested fragility and fallibility. More recently, Scully’s Wall of Light paintings have been described as ‘visual utopias’ by David Carrier, interrelated bricks of colour betray no figurative impulse or visual hierarchy. An evocative layering of colours, suggests the inevitability of time passing, while the sheer physicality of the paintings keeps them always connected to the real.

Recent touring solo Museum exhibitions include:

Sean Scully: Works from the 80s, VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow, Ireland, 5 February – 1 April 2010; Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds, England, 27 May – 8 August, 2010, Wilhelm-Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany, 29 January – 8 May, 2011

Constantinople or The Sensual Concealed. The Imagery of Sean Scully, (touring 2009/10), curated by Susanne Kleine, The MKM – Centre for Modern and Contemporary Art, Duisburg; The Ulster Museum, Belfast; Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen; Kunstsammlungen, Chemnitz

Sean Scully: A Retrospective, (tour: 2007/08), curated by Danilo Eccher, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole and MACRO al Mattatoio, Rome

Sean Scully. Wall of Light, (tour: 2005/07), curated by Stephen Phillips, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Scully’s work is held by 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; the Tate, London; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K20K21, Düsseldorf; the Albertina, Vienna; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and Instituto Valencia d’Arte Modern, Valencia.

Sean Scully lives and works in New York, Barcelona and Munich.

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