DETAIL : Sean SCULLY Ireland 1945  Robe figure, 2003 2003 Painting oil on canvas

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Sean Scully: Body of light

What does the practice of painting look like at the beginning of a new century? What does it mean to be a painter, when critics and artists have argued for decades that painting is ‘dead’, that it has nothing left to ‘say’? In the face of photographic, cinematic, digital imaging and new media processes now available to artists, how can we understand the centuries-old practice of oil painting as anything but outdated?

The work of the Irish-born painter Sean Scully makes clear that painting is, in spite of pronouncements of its death, both alive and well. This exhibition introduces Australian audiences to a selection of Scully’s paintings, watercolours, prints and drawings from the last 16 years.

Scully was born in Dublin in 1945. His family left the Irish capital in 1949 and lived, like many Irish immigrants, on London’s working-class Old Kent Road. Inspired by paintings he saw in his local church, Scully decided at a young age to become a painter. After studying painting in London and Newcastle during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Scully moved to the United States of America in 1972, before settling permanently in New York City in 1975. Scully now divides his time between New York City, Barcelona, Spain and Mooseurach, Germany

David Carrier, ‘Piet Mondrian and Sean Scully: two political artists’, Art Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, Spring 1991.
Judith Higgins, ‘Sean Scully and the metamorphosis of the stripe’, Artnews, vol. 84, no. 9, November 1985.
Sean Scully, interview with Adrian Dannatt, ‘I don’t have the American ambition of being the next great abstract artist’, Flash Art, vol. 25, no.164, May–June 1992.
Sean Scully, interview with Constance Lewallen, View,vol. 5, no. 4, Fall 1988.
Sean Scully, interview with Hans-Michael Herzog, in Armin Zweite et al., Sean Scully: Paintings, watercolours, photographs, Düsseldorf: Richter Verlag, 2001.
Sean Scully, interview with Hans-Michael Herzog, ‘The beauty of the real’, Sean Scully (exhibition catalogue), Milan: Charta, 1996.
Sean Scully, interview with Ned Rifkin, Sean Scully: Twenty years 1976–1995, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995.
Sean Scully, interview with R Eric Davis, ‘Sean Scully’s preoccupations’, On Paper, vol. 2, no. 6 July–August 1998.

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