Scully’s Wall of Light

November 18th, 2011

Three paintings by Sean Scully collected in Wall of Light, a catalog for his 2005 exhibition at The Phillips Collection.

“Scully is conscious of the nature of inspiration. If he knows that being an artist is all about desire, he knows too that active pursuit of the muse is doomed to disappointment. For this reason, the artist cannot put himself under pressure to evolve. He must let questions go unanswered, go about his business, and then, when he least expects it, the muse will come. Scully simply makes himself available” (p19-20).

3.29.84, 1984 (p113). Click for larger version.

“Stripes became central to his work after a trip in 1972 to Morocco, where he was exposed to the bright light and striped textiles of North Africa. Similarly, the [1998] Wall of Light paintings evolved from [1983 and ’84] sojourns in Mexico” (p20).

Wall of Light Pink, 1998 (p81). Click for larger version.

“Scully also knows that he evolves very slowly and says that if he had pushed himself to innovate after Mexico, the Wall of Light paintings would have been different paintings—playful rather than melancholy. Instead, Scully developed other bodies of work, creating his construction canvases, inset paintings, and Durango composition while subconsciously absorbing the Mexican experience. This period of gestation resulted in works that reflect Scully’s emotional growth. As he says, ‘I am very interested in the idea of creating something that has already gained experience by the time it enters the world…'” (p20).

Wall of Light Yellow, 2002 (p124). Click for larger version.