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CAFA Art Museum(中央美术学院)
2015.03.12 Thu - 2015.04.23 Thu
Opening Exhibition
03/30/2015 17:00
No.8 Hua Jia Di Nan St., Chao Yang District, Beijing P. R. China
+86 10 6477 1575
Opening Hours
Tuesday to Sunday 9:30am - 5:30pm
(Stop ticket booking after 17:00)

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FOLLOW THE HEART: THE ART OF SEAN SCULLY 1964-2014, LONDON, NEW YORK-Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum
[Press Release]

-An artist whose name belongs to the shortest of the short list of major painters of our time (Arthur Danto)

-Curated by Philip Dodd, former director of ICA London

-Sean Scully’s first major exhibition in China; over a hundred important artworks across half a century from London to New York

-Two years preparation as a collaboration with international museums, institutes and renowned art professionals

-A multi-dimensional presentation of the internationally acclaimed cultural figure and his time: art, music, literature, theatre, film, architecture

(Jan 20, 2015, Beijing) Follow the Heart: The Art of Sean Scully, 1964-2014, London, New York, Sean Scully’s major retrospective show will open at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum (Beijing) on March 12th, 2015. It is the second stop of Sean Scully’s large- scale touring show in China. It enjoyed tremendous critical and popular success when it was shown late last year at the Shanghai Himalayas Museum. A “Sean Scully Hurricane” is sweeping through China, triggering deep interest in and heated discussion on Sean’s abstract art as well as the development of western contemporary art over the past half century.

Sean Scully is the most important international living master of abstract art: he has exhibited extensively worldwide and his works have been collected by over 150 prominent museums and institutes around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery, the Museum Ludwig (Germany), Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum (New York), Centre Georges Pompidou, Victoria and Albert Museum etc. Sean has been praised by the late esteemed philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto as ‘an artist whose name belongs to the shortest of short list of major painters of our time’. He has been the Turner Prize nominee at Tate London twice, in 1989 and 1993.

After two years preparation, with collaborations from many international museums, institutes, galleries and art professionals, the major career-length exhibition of Sean Scully’s art has arrived in China. It is one of the most important   solo exhibitions in recent years of a contemporary international art master, with serious academic and curatorial weight. The exhibition revisits different phrases of Sean Scully’s career over the past 50 years. Works range from oil to watercolor and pastel, pencil drawings to photography, including some of his most iconic and important artworks. There is also a major new 15 metres sculpture ‘China Piled Up’, made especially for the exhibition in China.

The exhibition is divided into sections, taking the visitor through the various periods of Sean Scully’s career. In the major gallery on CAFAM’s 3rd floor will be spectacular showcase of some of his key iconic works – from the 1960s to the present. Included will be the 8 metre painting ‘Night and Day’.  Seminal works from the 1980s such as ‘Backs and Fronts’ that challenged US abstract painting, as well as a monumental new sculpture ‘‘China Piled Up’(366x610x1524cm). The second gallery showcases the work made by Sean Scully in London in his early years (until 1975) and shows how he tried to develop an abstract language to make sense of the simultaneity of urban experience; and also the work he made in his early years in the US, the Zen-like minimalist paintings, as well as the major works made in the ‘80s.There will also be a selection of works made on paper, including photographs and an exclusive view of one of the artist’s drawing books. Upstairs will be a selection of Wall of Light paintings which preoccupied him from the mid-‘90s and which were featured in a one-person show which travelled across America, including to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. There will also be examples of his recent work: of his monumental Doric paintings, his most obviously ‘severe’ work, as well as his lyrical ‘Landlines’ which revisit the minimalism of the ‘70s but in a much more deliquescent way.

This retrospective will enable visitors to see great works of art, to understand the history of post-war abstraction in the west and to understand the connections between Sean Scully’s work and work made in China by Chinese artists.

A major bilingual catalogue with the same title of the exhibition has been produced to accompany the show. As the first extensive introduction of Sean’s art and life to the Chinese audiences, it collects some important essays including Architectural principles in the art of Sean Scully by Arthur C. Danto, A Modernism that turned into a tradition by the renowned German philosopher and socialist Jürgen Habermas, and ‘Painting is permanently primitive…’ by the poet and critic John Yau. It also includes a major dialogue between Sean Scully and the curator Philip Dodd, as well as conversations with the major Chinese artists Ding Yi and Wang Huangsheng. The connection between Sean’s art and music, literature and film is also investigated.

While it is the case that Sean Scully, the most significant international figure of post-war abstract painting, has developed the art tradition of Matisse, Mondrian and Rothko, it is also the case that Sean’s work has been shaped by eastern culture, as outlined by the curator Philip Dodd. He comments, ‘it is designed to open a conversation. There is no better Western artist to take part in this conversation, since conversation is the heart of his work: conversation with the daily world around him; conversation with the traditions of art in the West, from Velásquez to Matisse, but also with cultural traditions from Asia. Zen has mattered to Sean Scully, as did a book on the Tao and theoretical physics, and for 35 years he practiced karate with all its philosophical resonances.’

Wang Huangsheng, the director of CAFA Art Museum comments: ‘No one doubts that Sean Scully is one of the most important and most influential abstract artists today… what is distinctive about Sean Scully is that his work is absolutely contemporary, insists on individual consciousness and independent thinking, and is able to explore and express the essential power of the inner consciousness and of the external world in such a way as to make a really valuable contribution to the life and the history of art in a tempestuous time.’

Ding Yi, the most important Chinese abstract artist, observed in his dialogue with Sean: ‘For me Sean Scully is a master of eclecticism. He has perfectly combined two extremes in one painting. On the one hand rationality, on the other hand emotions, so does philosophy and poetry. The structure of his painting is rational, but the brushstrokes are emotional, captivating and full of life. I think it is very extraordinary. ’

Wong Shun-kit, the director of the Himalayas Museum comments: ‘As one of the most important artists today, Sean Scully has made an immensely valuable contribution to the development of contemporary abstract art. The audience that encounters his work is directly engaged in a grand and dramatic narrative, one with great depth achieved through the orchestration of structure, colour and brushstroke. It is part of his genius that he has a philosophical approach, bringing together rational thinking and profoundly emotional colour with an expressive structure of brushstrokes.’

As well as being a globally renowned artist, Sean Scully is also an important international cultural force through his writings, role as a professor and through his influence on poets and musicians. As an important writer about art, his numerous books have been published in many languages, including Sean Scully – Resistance and Persistence: Selected Writings in 2006 that collects his acclaimed essays on Giorgio Morandi, Van Gogh and Rothko. He was an influential teacher at Chelsea School of Art and Design, Goldsmith’s College of Art and Design, as well as Parsons. He is now an Adjunct Professor at Princeton University and Professor of painting at Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Munich). Sean’s own art has been influenced greatly by music and literature. His deep connections with other Irish cultural figures from Samuel Beckett to the musician Bono from U2 are also well known. Bono has once said that Sean Scully is ‘a Bricklayer of the heart’ and ‘I am lucky enough to live with some of Sean Scully’s work. They are of course very musical, very lyrical…’

This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see the art of a painintg master who stands at the crossroad of the arts and is a bridge between western and eastern cultures.