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YSP presents the largest-ever presentation of sculptures and first exhibition of sculpture and painting in the UK by Sean Scully

13 Apr 2018

Sean Scully: Inside Outside
Longside Gallery and Open Air
29 September 2018–6 January 2019
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
Yorkshire Sculpture Park (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, 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 has made new paintings and sculpture – resolutely contemporary works that integrate an inclination towards geometry with the romantic sincerity of landscape painting in the historical tradition.
Born in Dublin in 1945, raised in London, and now resident in New York, London and Germany, Scully is considered to be one of the most important abstract painters working today. Drawing on European traditions but with the distinct character and scale prevalent in the USA, Scully is credited with reinvigorating abstract painting. Whilst best known for his paintings on canvas and aluminium, and works on paper, during Scully’s early years as a student at Newcastle University (1968–72) and as a Graduate Fellow at Harvard University (1972–73), he made experimental sculptures and structures, often using materials associated with women’s domestic work which alluded to or shared the grids and frameworks then current in his painting. Raised in an economically deprived South London household, Scully recalls being the darner of socks for the family, and considers that the weft and weave of this early experience informed the development of both his grid-like painting and sculpture.
Over the past 15 years Scully has returned to sculpture, working in steel and stone to make powerful structures that both assert and subvert their materiality. The monumental Wall Dale Cubed (2018) in Lower Park is the latest sculpture that relates to a series of paintings that Scully began in the 1990s. This new sculpture made for YSP uses 1,000 tonnes of Yorkshire stone from a local quarry and was constructed over many weeks. Referencing ancient dry stone walls, such as those commonly found in Yorkshire, Mexico, Egypt and especially those of the Irish Aran Islands, which Scully has intensively photographed, this colossal work is built in the same way throughout, so that "when looking at the outside of the block, one can feel the inside without being able to see it". In contrast, the Corten steel Crate of Air (2018) in the Country Park investigates fragmented space or ‘boxes of air’ that form their own frames to the landscape beyond. The angular shapes Scully uses in this sculpture resonate with his paintings and is made up of individual sections that form relationships once pieced together. Sited in YSP’s historic landscape, 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.
A former horse-riding school, Longside Gallery is a large light-filled square space, overlooking the 18th-century parkland through enormous windows. Measuring over 8m in length and 2.8m in height, Scully’s exceptional painting Blue Note (2016) occupies 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 has developed further Landline paintings, a series begun in 1999 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, bronze, 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. He has spoken of a student job, stacking flattened cardboard boxes from a supermarket into a lorry: hard work, protruding staples lacerating his skin – but aware all the time of creating teetering sculptural forms that gradually filled the vehicle’s void with mass.
Alongside paintings and sculpture in the gallery are selected works on paper together with drawings related to sculpture. A limited-edition print accompanies the exhibition to help support YSP, a not-for-profit institution with a highly significant educational remit. Also opening in September is Sean Scully: Landline at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, featuring never before seen works from the artist’s acclaimed Landline series, from 13 September 2018–6 January 2019.

Notes to Editors

About Sean Scully

For over a generation, Sean Scully has been considered one of the world’s leading abstract painters. Born in 1945 in Dublin and raised in London, he now lives between New York and Germany. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2013 and was twice shortlisted for the Turner Prize, in 1989 and in 1993. He has shown in the world’s most important museums and galleries and had a major retrospective which toured multiple venues in China from 2015–2017. Scully’s work is held in numerous public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth; Tate, London; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K20K21, Düsseldorf; Albertina, Vienna; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Instituto Valencia d’Arte Modern, Valencia; Guangzhou Museum of Art, Guangzhou and China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China.
Other exhibitions by Sean Scully in 2018
Sean Scully: 1970, Laing Art Gallery and Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, UK, 10 February–28 May 2018.
Sean Scully | Facing East, The State Russian Museum, The Marble Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia, 3 March–9 May 2018.
Sean Scully: No Words, Edward Hopper House, Nyack, NY, USA, 9 March–27 May 2018.
Vita Duplex, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, Germany, 23 March–25 August 2018.
Sean Scully: Standing on the Edge of the World, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, China, 26 March–30 April 2018.
Landlines and other recent works, Depont Musuem of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands, 21 April–26 August 2018.
Sean Scully: 1970, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK, 14 July–14 October 2018.
Matisse | Scully, KEWENIG, Berlin, Germany, 6 September–27 October 2018.
Sean Scully: Landline, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, USA, 12 September 2018–6 January 2019.
Sean Scully: Uninsideout, Blain|Southern London, UK, 3 October–17 November 2018.
Sea Star: Sean Scully at The National Gallery, The National Gallery, UK, 13 April–11 August 2019.


Sean Scully Press Release

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High Res Image Downloads


Sean Scully, Wall Dale Cubed, 2018. © Sean Scully. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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Sean Scully, Blue Note, 2016. Oil and acrylic spray on aluminium. 2.8 x 8.1m. © Sean Scully. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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Sean Scully, Landline Dale, 2018 © the artist, courtesy Sean Scully

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Sean Scully, Inside Outside, 2018 (installation view). © Sean Scully. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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Sean Scully, Landline Field, 2014 © the artist, courtesy Sean Scully

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Sean Scully, Crate of Air, 2018. © Sean Scully. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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Sean Scully, Inside Outside, 2018 (installation view). © Sean Scully. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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Sean Scully, Moor Shadow Stack, 2018. Corten steel. 4.57 x 3.66 x 3.66m. © Sean Scully. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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