John Stephens reviews the recent exhibition Sean Scully: Horizon at Timothy Taylor Gallery, London.
Stephens writes: “I’d say [Scully] owes his success over the decades since the 70s not only to his deft and confident handling of paint but also to his understanding, not just of modernist abstraction but of the history of Western painting. The use of typical modernist compositional devices such as the stripe and the implicit grid give him scope to demonstrate that virtuosity. Often working in layers, wet on wet, he paints in a way that might be seen as reminiscent of Manet’s technique of not waiting for the paint to dry before the next layer is applied. And, like Manet, he uses it to particular effect, giving a powerful presence to his paintings with a palette that seems to defy description. And in making that connection I’m alluding to Scully’s broader connection to the history of painting, for often his palette and his understanding of paint handling is reminiscent not just of Manet but of Goya, Courbet, Nolde and others.”