Scully Retrospective Exhibition, Fine Arts Museum - Hungarian National Gallery

  • 14 Oct 2020 9:08 AM
Scully Retrospective Exhibition, Fine Arts Museum - Hungarian National Gallery
It was on show 31 January 2021. The organisers say they are proud to present the first retrospective in Central Eastern Europe of the life’s work of Sean Scully, one of the most important contemporary exponents of abstract art.

His oeuvre combines formal reduction with referential complexity, geometric construction with vivid self-expression.

Since the 1980s, Scully has developed his own unique pictorial language, built on a subtle synthesis of apparently contradictory qualities.

Starting with the early figurative experiments of the 1960s and the minimalist pieces from the 1970s, this exhibition encompasses every major period of Scully’s career:

* Works from the 1980s, based on expressive bands of colour and giving off a sculptural feel (Adoration, 1982);

* Groups of works associated with window and wall motifs (Window Figure, 2002);

* His unique landscape interpretations (Landline series, Wall of Light series); and

* His recent – and to many people a surprising - turn towards figuration (Madonna series).

Without following a strict chronological order, the exhibition displays the most important groups of works in thematic units, showing how Scully ‘opened up’ abstraction to objective references and metaphorical content.

One of the most outstanding pieces at the Budapest exhibition is a new painting entitled Black Square (2020), which harkens back to the “pure feeling” painted by Kazimir Malevich in his iconic work of the same title.

In Scully’s picture – exhibited to the public for the very first time at the Hungarian National Gallery – Malevich’s motif is wedged into the incandescence of a “romantic landscape” like a black hole, an objectified manifestation of the virtually palpable Nothingness and a metaphor of the contemporary situation, fraught with existential angst.

The exhibition features around 110 works by Scully, from monumental paintings to works on paper, as well as a sculpture and a photographic work.

Visitors are aided in interpreting Scully’s art by the artist’s own writings, notes and sketches, which are presented on the walls and in glass cases. Scully’s dialogue with the art historical past is crucial for understanding his oeuvre.

Separate sections focus on his reflections on such major artists as Vincent van Gogh and Pierre Bonnard.

Interpolated into the fabric of the exhibition is a painting by Bonnard, from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, which further modulates this dialogue with the history of painting.

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Hungarian National Gallery

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