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SEAN SCULLY: LAND SEA

 

Throughout the twentieth century a discussion developed about the role of painting and the significance of its language. At the start of the century a geometrical alphabet began to take shape and was subsequently adopted as an appropriate response to a time of turbulent change.

 

Kazimir Malevich’s white square shifted the emphasis from narrating to thinking reality, using geometry as his preferred method of expression. Equally abstract were the Nature Mortes of Giorgio Morandi, in which landscapes of vessels became pure forms of colour, composed of varying tones that balance the dynamics of the image and its chosen language.

 

The work of Sean Scully lies at the heart of this painterly experimentation. With this exhibition of new paintings at Palazzo Falier, Scully embraces some of the most relevant strands of artistic debate, concentrating on geometric abstraction in the contemporary world.

 

Among the works included are a number of significant pieces from the series Doric. These imposing paintings on aluminium pay homage to the architecture of ancient Greece and its enduring legacy through opposing blocks of colour. Alongside these hang selected works from the Landline series. Composed of wide horizontal stripes of blue, grey and green that appear to lean into each other, the sense of movement in these paintings is palpable, intensified by fissures of colour that hold the viewer in an uncertain, infinite space.

 

This exhibition offers a new way of exploring the concepts of landscape and history, uniting abstraction with human experience. The work inclines towards the poetic yet engages directly with the specifics of light: its refractivity and chromatic range. As a result, these paintings sit comfortably within the tradition of Venetian Colourism while asserting their place at the heart of contemporary conceptualism.

 

Sean Scully’s work embodies this tension: it emanates a sense of history yet remains resolutely contemporary. These pieces balance severe geometry with the romantic sincerity of landscape painting.

 

This exhibition is therefore a great tribute to painting: to its history and multiple discourses. It confronts time and transience, continuing an intellectual journey that is becoming increasingly more unsettling and uncertain.

 

— Danilo Eccher