Sunday, July 07, 2019

Venice – Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore: Not Only Biennale – Sean Scully – Human

Not Only Biennale
Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore - Sean Scully – Human

"I want to make available the journey from the spiritual to the physical, and from the physical to the spiritual."
Sean Scully

The Human exhibition, until October 13, curated by Javier Molins, brings together the powerful vision of the acclaimed contemporary artist Sean Scully and the majesty of San Giorgio Maggiore, designed by the legendary 16th- century Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Conceived especially for this presentation throughout the Abbey, it is devoted to the fundamental tension between our heart’s striving in a world of beauty and struggle and our soul’s yearning for eternal transcendence.

Opulent Ascension

Sean Scully - Opulent Ascension
Inspired by the biblical story of Jacob’s Ladder, which established a conduit between the world we inhabit and the one that lies beyond, Scully’s soaring sculpture rises over ten metres under the Basilica’s dome. Comprised of stacked frames wrapped in felt of rich and varied colours, "Opulent Ascension" directs one’s gaze heavenwards through the oculus of the cupola.

Sean Scully - Landline Gold – 2019
Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore - Angel
that crowned the top of the bell tower

The exhibition features forty new and recent paintings, sculptures, works on paper and stained-glass windows, it takes visitors on an intimate journey through the various artistic fields that Scully has mastered since the early 1970s. Scully’s unique, innovative vocabulary of horizontal and vertical stripes, for which he is internationally renowned, which has now embraced figurative composition, is on rich display throughout. 

Derived from the verb "sacren", meaning "to make holy", the Sacristy is the space where sacred services are prepared and in which hallowed objects are kept. Correspondingly, this room is devoted to drawings that capture Scully’s initial artistic impulses – the raw inklings from which his works are made. 

Sean Scully - works on paper
In these more intimate pieces, the finesse and precision of the artist as a draughtsman and craftsman is in full evidence. These drawings reveal just how much meditation, ingenuity, and passion goes into creating the larger-scale paintings and sculptures for which Scully is best known.

  Sean Scully - Illuminated Manuscript

Coro Maggiore
Sean Scully - Illuminated Manuscript - 2018–2019
Echoing the mystery and charm of medieval illuminated manuscripts, which weave into a single book the beauty of exalted words and imagery, Sean Scully has created a lustrous volume that chronicles the making of his works for this exhibition. A repository of both verbal and visual meditations, this remarkable resurrection of a bygone medium captures the artist’s eloquence as both a writer and as an image-maker. The combination of language and drawing creates an extraordinary music of the mind.

Officina – Manica Lunga
Sean Scully – Landline series
The eight oil-on-aluminium paintings from Scully’s acclaimed – Landline - series in the Manica Lunga - Long Gallery - offer visitors evocatively lyrical landscapes for contemplation. The intense horizontal bands suggest not only a map of exterior landscapes that our bodies inhabit in the physical world, but an undiscovered spiritual realm within us. In seemingly simple arrangements of stacked strata, which vary in number from six to seven bars, the – Landlines - echo the endless compression of existential layers – physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual – that comprise us.

Officina – Manica Lunga
Sean Scully – Landline series

Sean Scully - Two Windows - 2019

Sean Scully - Sleeper Stack – 2019

“The rhythmic objectiveness of these deeply committed works,” wrote Scully in 1998 of van Gogh’s oeuvre, “is what impressed me so.  I took this idea to an extreme, so that in an abstract painting everything was something, in a sense that it had the force of an object.”

Sean Scully – Arles Abend Vincent 2 – 2015

Pastel Room
Sean Scully – Kind of Red - 2014
 Works on paper
These soft-focused siblings of Scully’s core themes and passions, for example a work commemorating the cultural and philosophical legacies of ancient Greece – “Doric” - or a five-part tribute to the music of Miles Davis.

“My work is an attempt to release the spirit.”

Sean Scully – Madonna Triptych
one of three
Having abandoned figuration five decades ago, Scully returns to the style with three portraits from a new series, titled Madonna they are based on photographs taken of his wife and son on the island of Eleuthera.

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