Metal is the name chosen by Sean Scully for his new exhibition at Galerie Lelong. With this word, he invites us to see the support hidden under the painting, exposing this material that reflects light, the central feature of his work. Metal was very popular with minimalist artists in the 1960s and it reminds us that while the paintings of Scully demonstrate extreme sensitivity, they are nevertheless structured and economic in their use of materials, organised in a rigorous arrangement of squares, rectangles, horizontal and vertical strips. Sean Scully uses steel for his sculptures, aluminium and copper for his paintings. On these metals, the paint slides, the brush moves faster than on a canvas and the work as a whole becomes more animated. Often the support is visible and the light it reflects becomes another colour in the composition.
This speed of execution has brought greater suppleness and freedom to Scully’s work. Now based in the Rockland county, North of New York, the large studio where he works looks onto a garden of dense vegetation with a stream running through it. It so naturally reminded him of Monet’s garden that Scully commissioned a Japanese bridge to be built to span the stream, based on the one in Giverny. With the garden, nature has entered Scully’s paintings: light, the movement of air and leaves; greater respiration, new chromatic pairings that suggest that the memory of Monet is not far away.
Aged 71, Sean Scully enjoys international recognition, demonstrated by the many retrospectives organised by the greatest museums in the world: Frankfurt, Paris, Vienna, New York, Philadelphia, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Beijing, Shanghai, Munich, Dublin, and more. His works can be found in some of the most prestigious public and private collections, notably the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery, the MNAM Centre Pompidou and the Guggenheim Museum of New York. In 2017, his work will be exhibited at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.