Robert Hughes, in his magisterial Nothing if Not Critical, remarked that Mark Rothko was a presiding influence on Sean Scully. His paintings, like Rothko’s, ‘accumulate reserves of feeling, cogitation and the life of the mind in pigment’. Even those with a morbid dread of the abstract are drawn to what Hughes calls the ‘rough Doric calm’ of Scully’s art. The man from Inchicore (he introduces himself as ‘Sean Scully from Inchicore’), is the only Irish artist (living or dead) with a truly international reach. A work by him will attract interest in London, Paris, New York, Berlin and further afield in Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore. Consequently any significant painting by him is inclined to be consigned for auction outside Ireland, where the market is larger. Last June his Wall of Light Pink Pink achieved £785,000 at Christie’s in London, and his considerably smaller Untitled (10.18.85) made £60,000 at Sotheby’s in September. The Irish market is mostly confined to prints by Scully, or smaller works on paper. There are occasional exceptions, de Veres made €165,000 on a Scully last year, and Adam’s sold a smaller piece in 2014. Skibereen has been attracting attention from the outside world recently through the prowess of its rowers. Morgan O’Driscoll’s December sale is going to arouse a different kind of interest from abroad with its Sean Scully offering. Untitled (9.2.89) is similar in size and medium to the piece sold in Sotheby’s this year but is far lighter in tone and less portentous in mood. It should thus prove more attractive to buyers. It is guiding at between €70,000 and €90,000.
Image: SEAN SCULLY Untitled – 9.2.89 oil pastel on paper 57.2×76.5cm