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Work of the Week | 15 February 2021

CAG.128 Sean Scully, East Coast Light 1, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 75.7 x 63.6 cm. © the artist.

East Coast Light 1 (1973) by Sean Scully is an example of hard-edge painting, which is characterised by sharp transitions between colours achieved using tape and spray paint. Consisting of a grid of layered bands, this work blends aspects of the artist’s background in graphic design and construction with the influence of Moroccan textiles and the impact of a fellowship to Harvard University in 1972.

First exhibited at the Dixième Biennale Internationale d'Art, Menton (1974), this abstract painting may be seen to anticipate Scully’s subsequent use of a characteristic stripe motif. For the artist, the stripe “is always concerned with thinking, and it is concerned with acting free of context … it is always reaching outwards,” as he observed to Allie Biswas in 2016. “The stripe can do anything in any direction, and since it is so common, it corresponds to everything around us.”

In 1980, this work was featured in Rosc Chorcaí ’80: Irish Art 1943–1973. Its curator, Cyril Barrett, wrote that the “exhibition covers a period which some people might describe as the great awakening of modern Irish Art and others as the great betrayal.” Presented at Crawford Art Gallery, the exhibition later travelled to the Ulster Museum, Belfast.

Born in Dublin in 1945, Sean Scully is a contemporary artist with a major international reputation. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts and Aosdána, and visitors may remember the major retrospective exhibition here, Sean Scully: Figure / Abstract (2015).

Sean Scully pictured at Crawford Art Gallery for the opening of Figure / Abstract in 2015. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney / Provision.
Sean Scully pictured at Crawford Art Gallery for the opening of Figure / Abstract in 2015. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney / Provision.

East Coast Light 1 (1973) by Sean Scully is presently displayed in our Upper Gallery (Floor 1).

Tune into The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here:


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