In New York I used to spend a lot of time — for a while — shooting pool for money, when I was poor. And I would love to go out at night. I find the colours at night incredibly mysterious and beautiful. And that’s of course the romantic impulse. And those dark colours — dark blue, black, grey, dark brown, dark green, greys — come from the air of the night. And the night for me is a time of great tranquillity and mystery and in a way equilibrium. I find night extremely beautiful, because it’s the end of the day, but it hasn’t reached the point of finality — it’s before sleeping. I tend to function best in the afternoon and in the night. So my colours, I think, reflect this. They are not the colours of morning … So I think that my colour has a lot to do … with the colour in the city. The way that the buildings are painted and the way that light hitting the buildings changes them. But it’s never simple colour, because I work wet into wet. I keep painting and painting and painting until I find the colour on the painting, which is why they are more or less impossible to reproduce. Because the colours are so complicated. A lot of the times I play with the colours; and what I do with them is I mix them up or pervert them to the point, where they almost lose their identity in relation to the name that they are given, because we give colours different names like blue, black, red — but there are many colours that are on the edge of these categories and these are the kinds of colours that I tend to use.
Sean Scully, interview with Hans-Michael Herzog, ‘The beauty of the real’,
Sean Scully (exhibition catalogue), Milan: Charta, 1996, pp. 55–131 (p. 109).