The most extensive and significant bundles in the Sammlung Klein (Klein collection) include around 20 works by Irish American artist Sean Scully. Meetings in his New York studio also gave Alison and Peter W. Klein access to the works of his wife, Liliane Tomasko. For the artists and the collectors, who are now friends, there was no doubt about combining presentation of the Scully block with a dual exhibition and thereby adding a personal touch for the anniversary of KUNSTWERK.
Alison and Peter W. Klein have built up a block of work by Sean Scully, which is unique in Europe and which traces his artistic development from 1973 to the present day. Sean Scully, who was born in Dublin in 1945, is one of the world’s most important contemporary artists. After influences from Op Art and minimalist art, his work since the 1980s has displayed unmistakable imagery with orthogonally aligned colour fields and bands condensed in layers of paint. The colour application and colour tone here are emotionally charged. Abstract painting with Scully becomes the artistic equivalent of human experience and feeling.
Liliane Tomasko, who was born in Zürich in 1967, creates her artistic work from the private sphere. Clothing, blankets or bed sheets form figurative references in her painting. In her new works, the figurative provides only the structural basis for her paintings, which form pictorial spaces of weaves of graphical and painted elements with gestural strokes.
For the first time, the exhibition at KUNSTWERK shows an interleaved presentation of both positions, which allows artistic dialogues between their works to arise independently of a chronological arrangement.
The beginning of the exhibition traces the subjective signature in the abstract. Two paintings by Sean Scully, with complex then simplified grid structures from 1973 and 1974, reflect the permeation of the handwritten aspect into the work of the then 28-year-old artist. The change into colour application, which can be seen between Diagonal Inset and Overlay #9, already points to a departure from cool artistic calculation. In the time leap to Desire or Desired (2007), which carries with it all the tones of desire in its colourfulness, the emotional power that lies in Sean Scully’s painting is revealed.
The works by Sean Scully spanning three decades are answered by a series of current drawings by Liliane Tomasko. In the spontaneous flow of her work, line structures of different densities arise, which are the most direct expression of the artistic personality in their gestural character.
The continuation of the inset, the picture-in-picture concept of Sean Scully, initially forms parentheses between the first and second level at KUNSTWERK. In the combination of his paintings and pastels with the works of Liliane Tomasko showing “dark corners” (window sills) or blankets with striped patterns thrown over each other, painting qualities and the fineness of colour value in the works of both artists become the theme.
Sean Scully’s Day Night (1990) is a painting of extraordinary physical presence. The middle section of the triptych stands out. Unbridled power is displayed in the materiality of the colour application, which charges the open structure of black and grey fields with dramatic energy. The dark and severe colourfulness typical of the period of origin is in contrast to current works by Sean Scully and Liliane Tomasko. After an existential break in 2013, both have continued their work with new stimuli. For Scully, the Landline series begins in this period, with horizontal bands of colour. In her work, Liliane Tomasko finds new imagery with an expressive air, the vitality of which is expressed in a series of large-scale paintings.
Two solo cabinets present different aspects in the work of the artist couple. In a retrospective view, Liliane Tomasko’s paintings from 2002 show the starting point of her artistic discussion. Clothes thrown down form the inspiration for a subtle translation of objective into pictorial. The structure and tonality of her drawing series Floating Stacks (2010) develops from the subject of piles of clothes or stuff. Sean Scully’s Mooseurach (2016) paintings contrast photographs that negotiate basic principles of his painting in the other artistic medium.