Sean Scully (b. 1945)

Wall of Light, Temozon

Sean Scully (b. 1945)
Wall of Light, Temozon
signed, titled and dated 'WALL OF LIGHT TEMOZON Sean Scully 2.02' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
72 x 84 in. (183 x 213.4 cm.)
Painted in 2002.
Timothy Taylor Gallery, London
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, London, 22 June 2005, lot 42
Monterrey, Galeria Ramis Barquet, Sean Scully, June 2002.

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Lot Essay

The sheer scale of Wall of Light, Temozon immediately allows its rich warmth and light to enwrap the viewer. It also embodies the rugged urbanity of the cities in which Scully works and lives, especially the frenetic atmosphere of Manhattan. Executed over a period of time and in a number of layers, the continuous over-painting of a series of different compositions of stripes in thickened oil paint creates an extraordinary surface, thick with the fossilized markings of the paintbrush. Using a series of repeated gestural movements, Scully's presence and movement around the painting is marked by the direction and placement of the stripes. The stripes in Temozon echo the artists desire to re-order the world, while simultaneously creating dissonance through the tactile texture and vigorous application of paint. His use of a range of reds and blues poetically interfused with muted greys, charcoal and blacks add an overall sensuality and movement to the composition.

The genesis of Scully's Wall of Light series occurred in 1983, when he was in Mexico observing the ancient architectural ruins of the remote Yucatan area and he became interested in the effects of light hitting the areas crumbling stone surfaces. He subsequently produced a matrix of horizontal and vertical stripes in the manner of a patchwork quilt, or a dry-stone wall, enlivened by a complex system of over-painting that gives to each bar a compelling tonal and chromatic intensity that is at odds with the highly structured, grid-like composition.

Reconciling geometric precision with subjective emotionalism has been a dominant subject for Scully throughout his career. His paintings of the mid to late 70s show a cool minimalism that gradually transforms into a looser, more painterly style in the 80s. In his continuing Wall of Light series, the stripe is both the subject and the architectural device of the paintings, simultaneously form and content, in its allusion to the seriality and repetition of contemporary life.

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