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

Wall of Light Pink Pink

Sean Scully (b. 1945)
Wall of Light Pink Pink
oil on aluminium
89 x 74¾ in. (226 x 190 cm.)
Painted in 2011.
with Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, 2012.
K. de Barañano (ed.), Sean Scully: light of the south, Granada, Alhambra Palace, 2012, p. 75, illustrated.
Granada, Alhambra Palace, Sean Scully: light of the south, March - May 2012.
Special notice

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.
This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.
Sale room notice
Please note that this work is incorrectly starred in the catalogue and is not under the Temporary Admission regime. There will be no Import VAT payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will still be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Please also note that the size should be 85 x 74¾ in. (216 x 190 cm.) and not as stated in the catalogue and that the work is signed, inscribed and dated on the reverse.

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Lot Essay

‘Sean approaches the canvas like a kickboxer, a plasterer, a builder. The quantity of paint screams of a life being lived’ (Bono)

At over seven feet high, Wall of Light Pink Pink is a lustrous and rhythmic field of colour. Pools of black draw the eye around the sumptuous crimsons and umbers that make up this gestural mosaic. A grid barely holds the composition together, as Scully’s painterly brush work blurs edges leaving the sheets of colour to vibrate and shift.

Scully’s surfaces are built up from carefully constructed layers of paint. He sets out by carefully drafting his composition in oil-stick or pencil, often working straight onto the vertical canvas already hung on the wall. Colours are blocked in with great sweeps before he intensely scrutinises the surface. He continuously adds and removes layers of paint, dragging fresh pigments through the wet oil. In this way, any given passage may change dramatically until the artist is satisfied with both the surface tone and the complexity of the colour and surface. This repetitious process is evident in Wall of Light Pink Pink, as its rich depth allows the residues of numerous painterly layers to float and recede from the surface. Cool dark pools of paint coexist with the paler warmer pigments, whilst slivers of copper and grey hues dance between the passages; the result is a remarkably rich and nuanced painterly surface.
'Abstraction is the art of our age; it’s a breaking down of certain structures, an opening up. It allows you to think without making obsessively specific references, so that the viewer is free to identify with the work. Abstract art has the possibility of being incredibly generous, really out there for everybody. It’s a non-denominational religious art. I think it’s the spiritual art of our time' (S. Scully, quoted in ‘Some Basic Principles,’ B. Kennedy, exhibition catalogue, Sean Scully: The Art of the Stripe, Hanover, 2008, p. 13).

The Abstract Expressionists are key in understanding Scully’s oeuvre. In particular, Mark Rothko’s influence can clearly be seen here in the physical layering of colour in Scully’s painting. He first encountered Rothko’s work in his early twenties when he saw an exhibition of the artist’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Like Rothko, Scully obsesses over the relationship between colour; the depths and moods that can be created by careful contrasts and the interplay of hues.

‘My paintings talk of relationships, how bodies come together. How they touch. How they separate. How they live together, in harmony and disharmony ... Its edge defines its relationship to its neighbour and how it exists in context. My paintings want to tell stories that are an abstracted equivalent of how the world of human relationships is made and unmade. How it is possible to evolve as a human being in this’ (S. Scully, quoted in W. Smerling, ‘Constantinople or the Sensual Concealed,’ in exhibition catalogue, The Imagery of Sean Scully, Duisburg, MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, 2009, p. 8).

Painted in 2011, Wall of Light Pink Pink forms part of Sean Scully’s celebrated ‘Wall of Light’ series, in which the artist explores the quality and play of light through architectonic configurations of colour. Other examples from this series are held in international museum collections, such as A Wall of Light White, 1998, in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Wall of Light Brown (2000; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York). Dominated by fields of vivid crimson and burnt umber, the warmth of Wall of Light Pink Pink is beautifully tempered by planes of deep black, and slate grey. As the title indicates the work is a mediation on light and shadow in a two-dimensional field. Each panel is a self-contained unit, a Rothko-esque homage to colour, whilst the work as a whole is a study of the effects of light. Dark panels bring their neighbours to life as they recede into the depths of the wall and brighter portions radiate in the foreground.

Scully is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished artists working today. His international reputation has been bolstered by a series of critically acclaimed international retrospectives in countries as diverse as China, the United Kingdom, Spain, South Korea and the United States.

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