Sean Scully's art is 'an attempt to release the spirit'

Sean Scully, Madonna Triptych A, 2018

Human is a new show by artist Sean Scully, presenting large-scale sculptural and figurative works at the unusual site of the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, home to art-loving Benedictine monks that aim to promote a dialogue between the church and contemporary artists.

Irish-born artist Scully's works are directly inspired by these monks, and he's created a range of sculptures, paintings, drawings, and watercolour works that draw from the illuminated manuscript collections and the 16th-century Benedictine church.

Much of the work exemplifies Scully's signature visual vocabulary of horizontal and vertical stripes.

One piece, however, takes the form of a vast new sculpture titled Opulent Ascension, will be situated directly beneath the church’s central dome. Constructed from stacked frames, each wrapped in rich and varying colours of felt, the sculpture will rise ten metres into the air like an elaborate Jacob’s ladder, leading the eye and spirit heavenwards through the Basilica’s dome.

“I want to make available the journey from the spiritual to the physical,” wrote Scully in 2009, “and from the physical to the spiritual.”

Eight paintings from Scully’s recent series Landline are on show, with three portraits from a new series entitled Madonna sitting prominently among his other abstract pieces. The triptych is said to represent Scully’s return to figuration after five decades, showcasing what an important show this is for the artist.

Sean Scully: Human is curated by Javier Molins. It is on show at Abbey San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice from 8 May – 13 October 2019.

Sean Scully Madonna Triptych B, 2019

Sean Scully Madonna Triptych B, 2019

Sean Scully, Window Beneath, 2017

Sean Scully, Window Beneath, 2017

Sean Scully, Landline Black Veined Oisin, 2017

Sean Scully, Landline Black Veined Oisin, 2017

Sean Scully, Wall 3, 2017

Sean Scully, Wall 3, 2017

Sean Scully, San Girogio Maggiore Opulent Ascension

Sean Scully, San Girogio Maggiore Opulent Ascension

Sean Scully Madonna Triptych C, 2019

Sean Scully Madonna Triptych C, 2019

Cuadra San Cristobal Sean Scully Portrait c. Sean Scully, photo c. Felix Friedmann

Cuadra San Cristobal Sean Scully Portrait c. Sean Scully, photo c. Felix Friedmann