Hong Kong - Interviews

“Standing on the Edge of the World”: Sean Scully in Conversation with Alfredo Cramerotti

8 months ago

On the occasion of the solo show by Sean Scully at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, which inaugurated during Art Basel Hong Kong, we asked the artist and the curator to have a conversation to learn more about the exhibition, the artist’s practice and his personal attitude.

Alfredo Cramerotti: Sean, could you tell me what brought you to investigate abstraction as a form of physical experience? The two terms are almost contradictory, yet your work seems to merge precisely this.

Sean Scully: I wanted to bring abstraction into the world of living things, of living matter. I felt it had shifted away from being able to communicate. So I gave it a kind of physical agency mediums.

AC: The exhibition presents a cross-media selection of works. I’d like to know from you how you approach the media differently, if so. Is there a different attitude or working methodology between canvas, metal, photography, paper?

SS: Paper is delicate. Pastel and watercolour require a great sense of sensitivity, and of course with watercolour one is always trying to release the height ‘within’ the paper. Pastel requires layers that are ruffed into the paper, fried again and again. The difference between canvases and metal is significant. Metal is hard and it pushes back registering everything you do without loss of energy. Canvas is soften and requires more building of layers.

AC: You’re showing in HK for the first time. What has mainland China given to you so far, and what do you expect from HK?

SS: I don’t send my work to HK to get something. I send it to give something: since it is already made when I send it. I have a profound relationship with China, almost intimate. And I love to deepen this.

AC: ‘Standing on the edge’ is the underlying theme of the show. I have my angle on it, as a curator; but what about your take? How did you feel about when I first mentioned this to you?

SS: My work is dealing with the subject of the edge. That is the metaphor. How the plates and bodies (political and geographical) push against each other.

AC: It strikes me that your attitude towards life is powerful, direct, head-on, yet – I think – sensitive in many ways. We all have ‘secret’ aspects. For instance, what I sense is that you are a generous person, and one who takes care of people. Is there something you don’t show of yourself at first?

SS: I think at the end, I am a nurse. When I was a child, I had an animal hospital in my house, for wild injured animals. I have always been like this. And now I support this and that, and attract friends, who are on hard tries. Most people see at first that I am direct. That is also true.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
  • Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
  • Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

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