Sean Scully’s Successful Traveling Show Comes to Guangdong Museum of Art

Sean Scully, "Diagonal Light," 1972, acrylic on canvas, 243.8 x 304.8 cm, private collection
(Courtesy the artist)

The second phase of Abstract artist Sean Scully’s traveling exhibition continues its journey across China, arriving at the Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou today, where it will be on display through October 9.

"Sean Scully: Resistance and Persistence. Paintings 1967-2015" opened at the Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts (AMNUA) in Nanjing in April this year, and after its stint in Guangzhou, it will move on to Wuhan’s Hubei Museum of Art. The exhibition follows the unprecedented success of Scully's earlier companion show, “Follow the Heart: The Art of Sean Scully,” which was launched at the Shanghai Himalayas Art Museum and then moved to the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Art Museum (CAFAM) in 2015. 

This second edition of the retrospective showcases 60 of Scully’s paintings and works on paper, in addition to major sculptures such as “China Piled Up.” The exhibition explores the painter’s engagement with Western art, as well as his own significant contribution to the history of Modern and Contemporary art.

An extensive selection of works has been culled from leading private art collections and institutions for this show, all of which have never been seen by the Chinese public. These comprise important paintings exhibited at Scully’s solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and at the last Venice Biennale, including some borrowed from major museums.

According to various sources, this exhibition comes at an interesting moment for a prominent Abstract artist such as Scully. Evidently, Chinese abstract art is increasingly eliciting national and global attention, which is reflected in Scully’s success in the art market. Eminent curator Wang Chunchen stated that this retrospective “is as important an exhibition as Rauschenberg’s '85 show in China.” 

“Resistance and Persistence” provides an overview of Sean Scully’s career, offering a unique opportunity for the audience to grasp the history of post-war Western painting. The retrospective takes its name from the title of Scully’s famous collection of essays on artists like Van Gogh and Mark Rothko, which was published in 2006. 

Twice nominated for the Turner Prize at Tate London, Sean Scully is considered one of the world’s foremost abstract painters, having forged his career with bold geometric blocks of color. Last year, Scully celebrated his 70th birthday by inaugurating a new permanent site-specific installation at the Romanesque chapel Santa Cecilia de Montserrat near Barcelona. His other recent solo exhibitions include one at the University of Oxford in 2014, and “Sean Scully: Change and Horizontals” at The Drawing Center in New York, which subsequently toured to Galleria Nazional d’Arte Moderna in Rome.

“Sean Scully: Resistance and Persistence. Paintings 1967-2015” runs through October 9 at the Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou.