Sean Scully @ The Hatton & Laing Gallery

Caitlin Disken reviews Newcastle University alumni Sean Scully's latest Newcastle exhibition.

Caitlin Disken
12th March 2018
Image: Instagram

If you’ve been paying attention walking around Newcastle lately, you’re bound to have seen the adverts promoting the Sean Scully: 1970 exhibition. Scully’s work is a retrospective collection split across the Hatton Gallery and the Laing Art Gallery, with Scully describing the exhibition as ‘closing a perfect circle’.

Scully's inspirations are founded in the everyday environment

It’s fitting that Scully’s work is being displayed in the Hatton, located in Newcastle University’s Fine Art building. Scully, who has been twice-nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize, studied at Newcastle University between 1968 and 1971. The collection displays some of his earliest work, including paintings created during his time studying at Newcastle. The Scully behind these paintings surely could not know his work would go on to be displayed at institutes such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art, yet the paintings shown are clearly the work of a great artist in the making.

Scully is an artist who works largely in abstract art, but whose inspirations are founded in the everyday environment. One of the most striking paintings at the exhibition is his 1973 work Cream Red Cream, a carefully layered grid-painting inspired by one of Newcastle’s most prominent landmarks: the Tyne Bridge. Scully combines a diagonal canvas structure and overlapping grid lines to mirror the bridge’s famous arch, resulting in a masterpiece that is undoubtedly the exhibition’s crowning glory.

The exhibition manages to showcase an emerging artist finding his niche

Shadow is another piece that immediately catches the visitor’s eye. Contrasting pinks, oranges and greens, Shadow has a depth that works to explore the concept of perception, appearing almost like an optical illusion. The scale of the piece, alongside the precision and technical skill employed, is incredibly impressive, again highlighting the scope of Scully’s talent.

Although the exhibition is consistent in the geometric style, block colours and scale of the pieces, it still manages to showcase an emerging artist finding his niche. Each painting holds a unique quality, capturing Scully’s determination to find his place within the artistic world.

Scully has said that the exhibition represents him ‘showing my thanks and appreciation for what I was given’. It runs until May 28th and is definitely worth checking out.

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