Mary Webb & Sean Scully

Mary Webb, Utah XII, oil on canvas, 45 x 45 cm, 2014 (courtesy of the artist)
Mary Webb, Utah XII, oil on canvas, 45 x 45 cm, 2014 (courtesy of the artist)

Emyr Williams reviews two London exhibitions: Sean Scully: Kind of Red at Timothy Taylor Gallery (through July 26) and Mary Webb at St.Marylebone Church (through June 28), part of the Contemporary British Painting series.

Williams writes that "Scully has tried something a little different to his usual approach, letting his slabs of brushed colour 'float' over centres. The background support is aluminum, unyielding and clangingly harsh, a literalism maybe with its own references to 'imagined' sounds. The paint is applied in familiar ways, with heavy, oil-loaded brushmarks. Scully can be subtle in his use of colour, but has always worked tonally in the main, with repetitions, stripes, bars, blocks, almost always on the vertical/horizontal axes... Much in the same way as Scully does, Webb sets up an intent; in this case, a grid is used to imply a staircase – the rock formations of The Grand Staircase Escalante to be specific – an astonishing natural feature in the American mid west... The paintings are sensitive musings on colour, placement and relationship, taking the essential and re-imagining it through this abstracted, almost codified approach... Both Webb and Scully are working out of taste, neutralizing layouts to explore the emotional, maybe lyrical, impact of colour. Whilst each show affords enjoyment, the question is: can colour do more than suggest external factors – be they rhythm, sound, landscape, localised light?"