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Sean Scully: Inside Outside

Longside Gallery and Open Air
Future
29 Sep 2018–6 Jan 2019

YSP presents Sean Scully: Inside Outside, the largest-ever presentation of sculptures and first exhibition of sculpture and painting in the UK by the Irish-born artist.

Exploring concepts of landscape and abstraction with human experience, the exhibition unites sculpture with important recent paintings on aluminium and linen, together with works on paper. Drawing out ideas pertinent to the singularity of YSP and its landscape, this is a poetic, robust experience that embraces the Park’s topography and Scully’s exceptional vigour, as well as his belief that in life and art there is perpetual discovery.

The exhibition presents an artist at the height of his powers. Aged 72, it is evident that there is no curtailment of Scully’s energy, drive and vision. Keenly aware of the labour that dominated the lives of his mining family, Scully’s practice is one of great rigour and toil, his output prodigious. For YSP he will make new painting and sculpture – resolutely contemporary works that will integrate an inclination towards geometry with the romantic sincerity of landscape painting in the historical tradition.

Scully has been working in steel and stone to make powerful structures that both assert and subvert their materiality. His now celebrated Wall of Light paintings from the 1990s – structures formed from irregular blocks of colour that imply both strength and impermanence – have materialised into the massive sculpture, Wall of Light Cubed (2018). Similarly, Scully’s enormous Are You Looking at Me? (2018) sculpture in welded steel is uncompromising, defined by rusted steel horizontal and vertical frames. Respectively sited in YSP’s historic landscape – the formal Lower Park and more rugged Country Park – these vast metallic and stone sculptures demand a physical trek across the landscape that is extended further uphill through the former hunting ground of the Bretton Estate to Longside Gallery. The experience of walking between the sculptures and gallery thereby matching the energy and physicality of the exhibition.
 
In Longside Gallery, Scully’s exceptional painting Blue Note (2016) will occupy the principle wall, grounding the entire installation with a series of six alternately coloured and striped aluminium panels. Blue Note is a summation of themes Scully has been rehearsing for many years; a lodestar to his practice. Especially for YSP, and in response to the Yorkshire landscape, Scully is developing further Landline paintings, a series begun in 2013 in which he references liminal spaces – where land meets sky, sea, river, wall – with almost all vertical forms removed to create, “a side-to-side motion”.
 
Other sculptures inside and outside the gallery are formed from Yorkshire stone and rusted corten steel, as well as painted aluminium. Relating again to horizontally striped paintings, they are arrangements of stacked elements, such as square steel frames and circular coins, placed one on top of the other. Constantin Brancusi is an obvious precursor, but in the most elemental sense these works recall a child stacking pebble on pebble, block on block, to form one of the most basic sculptural forms. In Scully’s hands these stacked works are a muscular extension of vertical paintings and, as in much of Scully’s work, the biographical.

Alongside paintings and sculpture in the gallery are selected works on paper together with drawings related to sculpture, and a limited-edition print accompanies the exhibition.

Read an interview in Elephant magazine

‘I have spent my life making the melancholic into something irresistible. Because the world has changed around me and become more regretful, my paintings have become more true.’

Sean Scully




 

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