A new exhibition at Valencian Institute for Modern Art based in Spain is dedicated to the Doric series - monumental sized paintings Sean Scully has created since 2008 and to a series of watercolor paintings he created during the 1980s in Greece, thematic prologue of very large formats of Doric. What else are the noteworthy aspects of the works on view?
- It’s striking that the gravity Scully sought for the Doric works was forged in the fading light of the Bavarian forest, that to evoke the city and people that he regards as the very cornerstone of humanity he needed not to be in the great metropolis, but surrounded by trees. There is a powerful emotional force in his literal evocation of sunset that remits us directly to the sensible spirit and the ambience of Doric Night and Doric Dusk.
- In the last works of the series, Sean Scully employs a rich range of blacks highly superior to the one employed during many years; it reminds us of his black paintings from the mid to late seventies, product of a self-confessed ‘five year love affair’ with minimalist art.
- For Scully, black is resolutely a color. He owes this to one of his artistic heroes, Henri Matisse, although there is also a clear link to the late black and gray paintings of another key influence, Mark Rothko. Another fundamental source is found in what Scully calls the 'luxurious blacks' in the paintings of the seventeenth century Spanish artists, especially those of Francisco de Zurbarán.
- The push for austerity in the Doric series owes much to the Extremeño master’s expertise in using different tones of white. “It’s a very strange metaphysical relationship with materials, which is of course fundamental to all of my work –that relationship between materiality and light”. As with Zurbarán’s clerical robes, the whites in the Doric paintings are remarkably delicate in their nuanced hues. Rhythm is vital to the series.
- By 2009 Scully was growing increasingly frustrated by canvas and decided instead to paint on Alu-Dibond, a composite material consisting of two sheets of aluminium and a central core layer of polyethylene. Scully has likened the feel of painting on the metal to the percussion section of a jazz band, which inevitably prompts a hypnotic rhythm to enter into the marks he makes.