Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore Venice.
Sean Scully: HUMAN
Press Preview: Tuesday 7 May 2019 | 2pm – 5pm
Commissioned by the monks at San Giorgio
Curated by Javier Molins.
Exhibition: 8 May – 13 October 2019
Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore
Isola di S. Giorgio Maggiore, 30133
Vaporetto della linea Actv 2 con fermata San Giorgio
in partenza da:San Zaccaria
(durata del viaggio di circa 3 minuti)Ferrovia
(durata del viaggio di circa 45 minuti)
Piazzale Roma (durata del viaggio di circa 40 minuti)
HUMAN Sean Scully
8 May – 13 October 2019
“My work is an attempt to release the spirit”
Sean Scully will present Human:
a series of new works exhibited alongside pieces from his private collection, in and around the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. The exhibition marks a shift away from his abstract works towards a more figurative aesthetic. Works include large-scale new sculptures, drawings, and watercolour works directly inspired by the monks’ Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore.
unseen pieces at the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. The Benedictine monks resident at San Giorgio promote the dialogue between the church and contemporary artists, within the cultural activities of their non-profit programme, the Benedicti Claustra.
The celebrated Irish-born abstract artist has created a series of new sculptures, paintings, drawings, and watercolour works directly inspired by the monks’ Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore, their vast illuminated manuscript collections and the 16th century Benedictine church. Scully’s instantly-recognisable visual vocabulary of horizontal and vertical stripes, which reflect fifty years of constant refining, will transform every corner of the High Renaissance church, designed four centuries ago by the legendary architect Andrea Palladio.
The soaring new sculpture, Opulent Ascension, will be situated directly beneath the church’s central dome. Constructed from stacked frames, each wrapped in rich and varying colours of felt, the sculpture will rise ten metres into the air like an elaborate Jacob’s ladder, leading the eye and spirit heavenwards through the Basilica’s dome. The tallest work ever created by the artist, Opulent Ascension embodies Scully’s conviction that his work can serve as a conduit between the physical world we can see and a transcendent one to which the soul aspires. “I want to make available the journey from the spiritual to the physical” wrote Scully in 2009, “and from the physical to the spiritual.”
Scully’s response to this place of worship and contemplation, includes a series of watercolour drawings displayed in the sacristy of San Giorgio inspired and informed by the extensive collection of illuminated medieval manuscripts housed at the Basilica, which Scully spent time studying and exploring. They feature the artist’s own writing, illustrated with extensive drawing and paintings.
In the large choir behind the altar, a vellum tome of watercolour drawings on hand-made paper, compiled by the artist for the exhibition, will be on display. The extraordinary book – a luminous testament to the artist’s devotion to the project – echoes the charm and power of illuminated manuscripts from a bygone era.
Throughout the abbey’s gardens and its adjoining buildings, visitors will discover an exhilarating array of works which resonate with the artist’s unique and inspiring vision: from painted triptychs and ‘soulscapes’ to a room devoted to the soft syllables of Scully’s exquisite pastels on paper.
Eight paintings from Scully’s acclaimed recent series Landline, will adorn the church’s long and narrow passageway manica lunga, taking visitors on an excursion deep within themselves. Particularly eye-catching within the context of numerous abstract works will be the three ground-breaking portraits from a new series entitled Madonna. This triptych is representative of an exciting recent impulse by Scully to return to figuration after having abandoned it five decades ago and is emblematic of what a landmark and transformative show this is.
Before exiting, visitors will encounter the radiant and rich triptych Arles-Abend-Vincent 2, whose panels pulse with twilight blues, Byzantine golds, deep reds, and lustrous blacks. On one level, the work’s title and bold palette allude to the searching soul of Vincent Van Gogh, whom Scully acknowledges as a key inspiration. On another level, the emulation of spiritual architecture of the triptych and its display within San Giorgio is transformative in its power. It is difficult not to see the painting – both singular and triplicate in its making – as echoing the mysterious calculus of the Holy Trinity.
Human coincides with several major exhibitions of the artist’s work across the world in 2019, including landmark shows in the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut, USA, the National Gallery in London, and the LWL Museum in Münster.
The exhibition is curated by Javier Molins. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the show.
Sean Scully was born inDublin in 1945 and was brought up in London and immigrated to theUnited States in 1975. He currently lives and works in New York, and outside Munich. He studied painting at the Croydon
College of Art (London) and Newcastle University (England), received a graduate Fellowship at Harvard University in 1973, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1983, and Honorary Degrees, Doctorate of Fine Arts from
The Massachusetts College of Art (Boston) and the National University of Ireland (Dublin). He has been the Turner Prize nominee at Tate London twice, in 1989 and 1993.
Javier Molins holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and a degree in Journalism from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Previously a Director at the Marlborough Gallery, Madrid and Director of Communications and Development at the IVAM, Molins has written about and organized exhibitions of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Sean Scully, Valerio Adami, Equipo Crónica, Antonio Saura, Eduardo Chillida, Anthony Caro and Bill Thompson, among others.
Kewenig was founded in 1986 as Jule Kewenig Galerie, based in Haus Bitz in Frechen near Cologne. After more than 25 years in the Rhineland the gallery is now located in Berlin. In September 2013, Kewenig inaugurated the new gallery building in Bruederstr. 10, the second oldest citizen house of Berlin on the Museumsinsel. A historic electric power transformation substation in Berlin remains Schaulager and warehouse. In 2004, a second gallery was opened in a 13th century chapel in Palma de Mallorca. Kewenig Gallery’s main focus is on international contemporary art since the 1960s, in which the artistic dialogue between various generations and cultures plays a significant role.
@keweniggalerie @seanscullystudio #seanscullyvenice
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