Sean Scully is widely regarded as one of the most important abstract artists working today. His iconic canvases are characterised by interlocking bars and blocks of colour juxtaposed with shades of grey and black. This work was inspired by a trip to Mexico in 1983 where Scully observed the effects of changing light on the crumbling stone walls of the ancient Yucatan ruins. The richly worked surfaces are highly expressive and emotionally charged, while the overlapping edges of the rectangular forms blur and bleed into one another, creating a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty. Scully has stated that:
“I want my brushstrokes to be full of feeling: material feeling manifested in form and colour.”
Scully’s geometric abstraction derives from the traditions of European modernism, particularly artists such as Mondrian, who sought harmony and spirituality in grid-like patters. However, Scully disrupts the balance of his compositions with contrasting elements and irregular rhythms which endow them with a sense of vulnerability. The sensuous, painterly quality of his works also reveals his interest in American Abstract Expressionist artists such as Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.