Magazine article Artforum International

Sean Scully: Sean Scully Art Space-Santa Cecilia De Montserrat

Magazine article Artforum International

Sean Scully: Sean Scully Art Space-Santa Cecilia De Montserrat

Article excerpt

Sean Scully

SEAN SCULLY ART SPACE--SANTA CECILIA DE MONTSERRAT

"I have a highly intuitive relation with color; I don't think of it at all," Sean Scully recently told me. Yet one would hardly think so from his ensemble of pieces in the chapel of Santa Cecilia at the Monastery of Montserrat, where Scully got carte blanche to create a series of works for permanent display in a sacred setting. This Benedictine chapel was built in the tenth century in the mountains near Barcelona and was recently restored and, after the artist's intervention, renamed Sean Scully Art Space.

Here, despite Scully's words, color seems deeply considered. The main nave has small windows of red monochromatic stained glass, while in the left aisle the windows are yellow and on the right side blue. Thus a trinity of primary colors defines the architecture of natural light entering the space. On each side of the main nave, close to the original entrance, there is a painting nearly ten feet in height, mounted with metal grips that make the work float in front of the wall. The one on the left is Cecilia, 2012, with red and yellow horizontal bands; on the right is Landline Cecilia, 2015, with blue bands intersected with a red and a dirty reddish white. These paintings echo the red light illuminating the space from its stained-glass windows, while each complements the primary hue in the aisle behind it. These subtle interplays seem to suggest that the installation reflects a careful color plan, although within the paintings, one still feels the artist's intuitive hand and subjectivity countering the minimal compositions.

Scully incorporated a range of techniques in this project. In the left aisle, where visitors now enter the chapel, hangs the huge Doric Nyx, 2013, a dark oil painting that does not get a lot of light; its placement is the only one I cannot fully comprehend, since it reduces the power of the work. …

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