“But I don’t think an abstract painting is something you worship. It is something that is part of the world. It is as if the spirituality in art stepped off a pedestal, or from behind a sheet of glass, and has joined the world of the living. That, of course, is the contradiction with it because many people find it more exclusionary than an icon painting. That is the contradiction with art. With intention and result there is very often conflict. That is one of the issues in abstraction I have tried to address; to use abstraction, I’m not fighting for abstraction. Those battles have already been fought. I’m using those victories to make an abstraction that is, in fact, more relaxed, more open, and more confident. I take it for granted I don’t need to abstract reality anymore; that has already been done. That would be the equivalent of reinventing the wheel. What I am doing is using all the ground that has already been gained; I’m occupying it to try to make something that is more expressive and that relates to the world in which we live. In that sense my abstraction is quite figurative. It is not very remote.” Sean Scully in conversation with Eric Davis, “Why Do You Make Art?” 1999.
Sean Scully was included in the New Abstraction show as well. Of all those abstract painters being presented I think he was the best known. For young abstract painters he held a connection to the NeoEx crew and he talked the talk of authentic abstract painting connected to the Modern era. He wasn’t stepping back or aside to make work, he was directly involved in a lineage. At that time in the early 90s he was a hero of mine. Those big boxy stripe paintings cobbled together into massive wall works looked real and offered those of us who loved AbEx painting some threads of inspiration.