Master abstract painter returns to the Walker Art Gallery

Master abstract painter returns to the Walker Art Gallery

An exhibition of paintings by Sean Scully, renowned globally as the master of post-minimalist abstraction, will be held at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery from 14 July to 14 October 2018Sean Scully:1970 opens in line with Liverpool Biennial and the John Moores Painting Prize, in which Scully was a prize winner in 1972 and 1974.

The exhibition presents Scully’s paintings from 1969 to 1974. They demonstrate the remarkable confidence of his work at this earliest stage of his career. They also reveal the beginnings of the artist’s continued fascination with stripes, and the spaces in between, which have come to define him.

Ann Bukantas, Head of Fine Art at National Museums Liverpool, said: “Sean Scully helped to revolutionise abstract painting in the 1970s. It was a formative decade for him as an artist, and one in which he also developed a lasting connection with the Walker. We’re particularly thrilled that Scully’s Red Light will be included in the exhibition, 46 years after it was awarded a prize in the 1972 John Moores Painting Prize.

“The paintings in this new exhibition show the confidence and impact of the artist’s early works. They still have an astonishing freshness and contemporary relevance, and it is fascinating to see his early sketches and the evolution of his future direction. We’re delighted to be able to offer our visitors two exhibitions which together showcase the legacy of the John Moores Painting Prize and demonstrate the inspiring potential of the act of painting.”

Scully was awarded prizes in the 8th and 9th John Moores Painting Prize exhibitions (1972 and 1974). This year, 2018, the Prize celebrates its 60th anniversary with an exhibition featuring 60 paintings and a first prize of £25,000.

Although Euan Uglow won the first prize in 1972 with his painting Nude, 12 regular vertical positions from the eye (on show in an adjoining room), juror Edward Lucie-Smith felt strongly that Scully’s Red Light should win one of the smaller prizes of £100. He also gave the painting a prominent position in the exhibition. In 1974, a fourth prize was created specially for Scully’s Subtraction Painting.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1945, Scully moved to Newcastle in 1968 to study Fine Art at Newcastle University. It was during this time that he began to develop his technically flawless painting style, consisting of a complicated grid system of intersecting bands and lines. He was inspired by his surroundings, including the structure of the Tyne Bridge. Scully’s artwork uses the shapes and forms of concrete geometry, infused with a lyrical emotion.

In addition to his paintings, the exhibition will present a selection of Scully’s sketches from 1967-1969, which still provide the artist with inspiration today. Now in his seventies, Scully lives and works in New York, USA, and Bavaria, Germany. He has been twice shortlisted for the Turner Prize and his work is in the collection of almost every major art gallery around the world.

Sean Scully: 1970 has been made possible through the generosity of the artist. It has been organised in partnership with the artist by the Laing Art Gallery and Hatton Gallery, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, and the Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool. The exhibition, with Art Fund support, forms part of RA250 UK: Exhibitions and events around the UK to celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts.