Sean Scully's Figurative Leap - Hyperallergic
13 March 2019
David Carrier speaks to Sean Scully about his turn towards figuration. As a student in the 1960s, Scully was looking to the German Expressionist painters and French painting of the early 20th century and as such, his earliest works were representational, often portraits rendered in graphite, charcoal or pastel. A selection of these early figurative works will be presented at Lisson Gallery this spring, alongside new Madonna paintings based on a series of family photographs taken in Eleuthera.
David Carrier: When I first saw these new paintings, I thought that perhaps they were inspired by the aesthetic theorizing of our great mutual friend, the late philosopher Arthur Danto. Danto claimed that ours was a post-historical era, in which everything was possible.
Scully didn’t exactly reject that idea, but he didn’t embrace it either.
Sean Scully: My idea is to work how I want. […] And staying with what is safe is not attractive, because I never entered art in the first place to make money. If you’re obsessed with something and you want to keep doing it because you love it, or it reveals something you have to see or show, that’s enough reason to keep doing it. I’m not making changes to show that everything is possible.
Image: Sean Scully, Eleuthera, 2017(Deatail), Oil on aluminum, 85 x 75 inches, 215 x 190.5cm © Sean Scully