Executed in 1988, More Light represents Sean Scully's enduring aim to elicit sensual and emotional effects through a deliberately restricted visual vocabulary. Throughout his career, Scully has tried to express something of the human condition through what he calls the 'competitive' use of the surprisingly complex relationships that can exist between very simple forms and colours. Since his arrival in New York in the early 1970s, the Irish-born, English-educated artist has produced a compelling body of work that has evolved from hard-edge Minimalist- inspired works to a mature oeuvre, with virtuoso handling of paint and emotionally resonant palette that propels non-representational painting towards a decidedly humanistic end. Scully is therefore deeply aware of the psychological power of colour and has stated that, "Black represents the end of the line. When you look at black, you are looking at death. The paintings in which I use that colour are mostly about the struggle between life and death" (Scully quoted in M. Poirier, Sean Scully, New York 1990, p. 158). Yet in More Light, Scully has outweighed sombre black with white - quite possibly the 'light' of the title - painting it delicate strokes that blend with the underpainted rose hue to create a warm radiating colour which glows with life and brings transcendent spirituality to the work as a whole.
These two tones are used to provide a horizontal structure in this composition, dividing the canvas into equal sections whilst providing a boundary for the inserted 'window' to its centre. More Light is a work of subtle contrasts that deliberately juxtaposes the compactness and solidity of the central panel with the bold openness of the larger canvas. By making paintings that are often made up of a series of separate, but interlocking canvases, each form becomes a separate 'personality' that has an intrinsic and unique relationship to the whole. In this work, moody subtleties are drawn from the exploration between figure and ground, rhythm and beat, structure and form, part and whole. From the interaction between the stripes, subtle variations emerge, imparting a living presence evocative of muted musical strains. Painting layer upon layer in dynamic, thoughtful and ritualized gestures, Scully lends his basic pictorial elements an emotional charge that transcends their superficial form. This grasp of painterly corporality in rich surfaces and slipped edges suggest a re-personalization of abstract painting, reminding us of its emotional power, intuitive intensity and instantaneous effect on the feeling eye.