Sean Scully is a leading representative of a new generation of abstract painters that emerged towards the end of the twentieth century. His work is strongly acclaimed, and has been exhibited in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Albright-Knox Gallery, Galleria de Arte Moderna, Bologna and Gallerie Jeu de Paume, Pais.
Sean Scully has moved steadily over the past three decades to his current position in the highest rank of painters working in the abstract tradition. Scully began painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s amid the dominance of Op Art in Britain. He then moved to America, where, after five years of struggle, he found his painterly voice in the stripe. Scully has relentlessly pursued the possibilities offered by his exploration of colored stripes, always remaining true to his assertion that "the stripe is a signifier of modernism."
Question: Why did you choose abstraction?
Scully: Well, it’s quite simple really I think a representational painter wants to show the things in the picture and with an abstract painting what in a sense you are trying to do is make everything happen at once. Now the other day I was in the Bon Art Exhibition. And Bon Art said whose Bon Art figurative painter of course and considered at one point retrograde and anti-madness. Working in the face of abstraction and cubism and hanging on to the figure, relentlessly hanging on to the figure. And he said I want to give the impression that when you walk into a room you see everything and nothing. And I would say that I want to show everything all at once. I once read a very interesting piece of graffiti when I was at the university which said time was invented to stop everything happening at once. She’s quite sweet. In an abstract painting it should be, could be possibly a moment of revelation and it’s a kind of thinking that takes you out of context, so that is his big advantage I think.