body of light
23 July – 10 October 2004
12 noon Thursday
22 July 2004
22 June 2004
This exhibition will present over 70 works of art produced by Sean Scully during the last 16 years including major paintings, works on paper, photographs and prints. Sourced from collections in both Australia and Europe, some of the works have rarely been seen in public.
Scully was born in Dublin in 1945. His family left the Irish capital in 1949 and lived, like many Irish immigrants, in the working-class area of Islington in south London. Inspired by paintings he saw in a local church, Scully decided at a young age to become a painter. After studies in England and at Harvard University in the United States of America during the 1960s and early 1970s, Scully moved to New York in 1975, and has since held major exhibitions in museums throughout North America and Europe.
For over 30 years Scully has painted large abstract works using horizontal and vertical stripes, bands and grids in numerous configurations. The stripe has become his motif. Scully's paintings are immensely physical. Their scale is often architectural, and they are made with thick, heavy stretchers, engaging his audience in a relationship that is provocative and affirming. In his recent Wall of light series, magnificent, wall-sized canvases are covered with arrangements of intersecting coloured stripes that literally radiate with life and energy. Through their presence, they seek to remind the viewer of, in the artist's own words, 'the brutality of reality' and the 'fact that we are physical … my paintings begin with that premise'.
Scully's work is also deeply meditative. It is intended to enable contemplation and, possibly, transformation: 'I feel very passionately about the power of art'. The painter has asserted that 'art has the ability to affect the way people see the world, now more than ever'.
Note The National Gallery of Australia's Director, Brian Kennedy, and the Coordinating Curator Shaune Lakin are available for interview.