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In conjunction with the 10th Shanghai Biennale, the Shanghai Himalayas Museum, one of the city’s largest private art museums, has opened Follow the Heart:
Abstraction plays little part even in the boisterous realm of contemporary Chinese art, although some commentators insist that the ancient practice of calligraphy — at least to those who cannot read it — figures as abstract art.
Scully’s works on canvas and paper are emphatically abstract in the modern, Western sense of excluding imagery in favor of raw form.
The viewer who moves around it experiences a continual shifting of openings and closure, as the internal relations of its strutwork appear to revolve.
The revolving open rectangles of the sculpture keep good company with Scully’s paintings, which for years have consisted of softly contoured, hand-painted forms suggestive of worn stones or mud bricks.
A tight but beautifully ordered array of Scully’s drawings, watercolors and photographs fills a passageway between large galleries.
The photographs — of drystone walls, doorways, Old World house facades — show us how memories of things seen can nourish the vision of an abstract artist.
Many classics of 20th century abstract art have begun to look like materiel from nearly forgotten artistic skirmishes or remain tainted by their association with morally discredited utopian projects such as the Bolshevik Revolution.
In composition, touch and tone, his recent paintings build on works going back to the 1980s, yielding expressiveness without expressionism.