Sean Scully (b. 1945)
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Sean Scully (b. 1945)

Wall of Light - Oceanic

Sean Scully (b. 1945)
Wall of Light - Oceanic
signed, titled and dated 'WALL OF LIGHT - OCEANIC Sean Scully 7, 05' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
83 7/8 x 71¾in. (213 x 182cm.)
Painted in 2005
Galerie Walter Storms, Munich.
Private Collection, UK.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Sean Scully, exh. cat., Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, 2007 (illustrated in colour, p. 101).
Special notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis. Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. Please note Payments and Collections will be unavailable on Monday 12th July 2010 due to a major update to the Client Accounting IT system. For further details please call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060 or e-mail

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Lot Essay

'With abstraction it is more difficult sometimes to reach a kind of intimate revelation' () 'But since the forms are used 'abstractly' we are free to make our own reality; it is the difficulty of this that makes it possible to achieve profound pleasure'
(S. Scully quoted in D. Carrier, Sean Scully, London 2004, p. 182).
Sean Scully's epically scaled Wall of Light Oceanic represents the sophisticated range of his recent oeuvre. Demonstrating a carefully considered play of light and shadow within an architectural matrix, this vibrant canvas possesses an evocative range of hues that seem to deliberately link it to its enigmatic title. Wall of Light Oceanic's monumental size is enhanced by its seemingly simple pictorial structure of two unevenly spaced vertical columns -- the left being dominated by red and the right by orange blocks of colour. Compartmentalized and self-contained, the horizontal and vertical blocks fit together imperfectly with layers of under painting seeping through the seams where they meet. The blocks are separated, yet their wavering edges make them appear as if they were jostling for a place, creating a strange tension in the overall structure. They are not solid, but are semi-permeable, resulting from Scully's many coats of thick oil paint that serve to emphasize his textural brushstrokes. This repeated and almost ritualistic act of mark-making illustrates his movement throughout the painting, creating a powerful sense of presence.

During the 1990s, Scully took inspiration from his travels in Morocco and Mexico, exploring the relationships of light and colour on the ancient ruins and landscapes, in what is known as the Wall of Light series. With each work connecting to both places and people, these painterly abstractions marked a movement away from the rigid horizontal and verticals that characterised his earlier plaids and mirror paintings. Since that time, the Irish-born painter has constructed his paintings with rectangular brick-like forms as if they were studies of an unspecified wall. With them, Scully illustrates the ongoing repetition and delicate nature of relationships. Scully himself characterizes his paintings as being about relationships, the ways in which bodies act on each other, physically and through colour, harmoniously or otherwise. His explorations of abstract forms evoke a range of emotional and narrative themes that take on a unique character. 'I have tried to make paintings that are really quite individual in their personalitiesthey are not meant to be remote' (S. Scully quoted in D. Carrier, Sean Scully, London 2004, p. 184).

Scully attended art school in London and Newcastle, before ultimately moving to the United States in 1975. Undoubtedly, his artistic development was heavily influenced by the New York School colour field and post-painterly Abstractionists, such as Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. His signature colour stripes reflect the influences of Rothko's emotive colour planes and Newman's zips, while establishing his own place in the world of abstraction. While Scully's pieces are not intended as narratives, he does admit that psychological subjectivity is contained within the expressiveness of the canvas.

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