Sean Scully, Doric
IVAM - Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Valencia
26 July 2012 - 28 October 2012
The series was fundamentally conceived as a celebration of the contribution of classic Greek culture to humanity. The works embody a metaphor of Greek architecture: “the spaces between the columns are space for thought, for light, for questioning and growth” writes Scully. The light and dark tones intervene in a complex game of solidity and shadow. There is no doubt Athens is the global inspiration of the series, but the role of Mooseurach –the countryside location of Scully’s studio near Munich– is also crucial. It was here that the paintings began, on a very particular wall which Scully grew to think was essential to the process, “...that’s where I would make the Doric paintings, and I would paint them into the evening when I could hardly see what I was doing. I like that clarity.” he explains. 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 (both from 2011).
In respect to the series of water-colour paintings exposed that were painted in the decade of the eighties the artist wrote: “I spent a week on the island of Simi in 1984. As ever, when I travel, I look at the houses where people live. I looked at the buildings on Simi, and they expressed a clean simple monumentality. So I made a group of watercolours while I was there. The second one I made (8.10.84) was more or less a faithful view from a big bay window. I had rented an apartment on a cliff overlooking the sea. The terrace was flat and white against the blue and yellow of the sea and the sand. Most of these watercolours show windows and architectural inserts. Blunt geometric divisions, ending with Simi Morning, a pale yellow, blue, brown, white watercolour that I painted the day before I left. All affected by Simi. All reflecting a classicism that is embedded in the simplest of structures. And of course, there is the constant still light.”