Critics’ Picks

Sean Scully, Landline Brüke 5.14, 2014, oil on linen, 85 x 76 x 3".


Sean Scully

Palazzo Falier
San Marco, 2906
May 9–November 22

There is a soothing calm to Sean Scully’s way with color—his paintings glisten with a new-car sheen. This current exhibition, “Land Sea,” focuses on the painter’s output from the past seven years, with more of an emphasis on the sea than land—an apt choice considering the show’s location in Venice. It is easy to be persuaded, as well as delighted, by the sludgy brushwork of paintings like Blueland (all works cited, 2014), sexy in its stilled sloppiness, which ideally would have had its colors scooped up from the water of the Grand Canal, shimmering directly beneath the palazzo here. That is, until you go outside and realize that the water is actually green, not blue. Still, if the paintings are convincing enough to cause this slip of memory, it says something in their favor, no?

Nearby, the oil-on-linen work Landline Brüke 5.14 is a medley of horizontal blues with two well-placed swaths of yellow toward the top and bottom of the canvas, as if thrown in to give these blankets some well-deserved punctuation. Even when Scully’s paintings are at their most earthy—as in the two gigantic paintings on aluminum, The Gatherer and Slope—you still want to wrap yourself in them.