Passionately in Love with Passion
Delacroix and Scully
“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”
No one understood melancholia in the early 19th century as profoundly as Delacroix. Nobody took on board romantic sadness in the late 20th century as deeply as Scully. Being a painter in its deepest roots means being romantic. Otherwise, there is no reason to be one.
If you are a painter what else can you do besides being passionately in love with your passion* - painting? Superabundant paintings by Delacroix make you feel Romanticism in your guts. Unhesitating paintings by Scully epitomize the grand climax of the romantic pursuit of Abstraction. Delacroix and Scully with their work provide an antidote to contemporary painting, which has simply become too cerebral nowadays and completely out of touch with painting whatsoever.
Through the powerful depictions of loss, rejection, defeat, and brutality come the greatest sadness of Eugene Delacroix. He is in deep contemplation about what the frightening future can offer. Delacroix’s paintings of battles are far from being triumphant. His paintings of shipwrecks are far from being enjoyable. There is always pain, suffering, and drama. But Delacroix doesn’t aestheticize it. On the contrary, the painter demonstrates how it is hard to find the light in this world without sadness in your heart. Delacroix tries to awaken the soul through his paintings. This is his life project, the poetics of his paintings, passionate love, and melancholic painterly rhapsody.
Sean Scully had quite a fight for his beliefs. One of his strongest beliefs is painting itself. As painting has not been triumphant for the last six decades, continuing to make paintings is a bold move. Making paintings despite the market’s expectations is romantic love. Scully’s romance is never neat, too bourgeois, or serial. Through imperfect blocks and unpredictable oscillations of paint, there is always light that comes through. Like the ideas of Delacroix but differently, Scully comes to these ideas through the means of different visual language. These paintings are poems and for the most part very tragic. These poems are where beauty meets difficulty and light comes through darkness. But it is so insistently human to find the beauty and light along melancholic contemplations.
The best reason to paint is that there is no reason to paint** in 2022. One group of people gave up on painting, another club produces paintings that fit the market expectations, and only a few are still interested in the poetics of painting rather than the market’s prose. Paint, because there is no reason. Other than your romantic love for it. Passionately being in love with your passion - painting, and finding the light through the gloominess of the contemporary moment is the way to be. Isn’t that romantic?
** Keith Haring
Eugène Delacroix, Scenes from the Massacres of Chios, Oil on canvas, 1824
Sean Scully, Landline Yellow Line, Oil on aluminum, 2015