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VISUAL 2010

Sean Scully: Works for the 1980s

06 February - 01 May

Sean Scully is one of the most significant abstract painters working today. An internationally renowned artist, he has recently exhibited in New York, Barcelona, Duisburg and Munich.  This exhibition will concentrate on paintings from the 1980s; an important period in the artist’s life and oeuvre, as well as hitherto unseen works on paper from the artist’s own collection.

Rejecting the meticulous, precise gridded paintings he made in the 1970s, Scully's work took a dramatic turn in the early 1980s. He began to make paintings with relief elements in an attempt to broaden the expressive range of his work. By making his paintings three-dimensional he gave them a more emphatic, physical quality: 'I liked the idea of looking at a painting that you could not look at just from the front but had to move around.' At the same time, stripes began to grow wider and become more pulsating. Colour gained in intensity and black would often be used to evoke feelings ranging from the solemn to the sinister.

The 1980s, a period, which has not been reflected in recent museums exhibitions, holds a very special moment in the development of Scully’s art. His great achievement, realised for the first time in these great works, is the reinvigoration of abstract painting with the metaphorical, the philosophical and the sublime, simultaneously delighting the viewer with the primitive and visceral power of pure paint. Ultimately, Scully's art has probed the very nature of human existence - its pleasure, pain and paradox.
This exhibition is part of a touring programme organized by Leeds Art Gallery and Sean Scully