Painted in 1993, Ulva sees Scully recalling his visit to the Hebridean islands off the coast of Scotland. Scully was fascinated not only by the wilderness of that remote region but by the human imprint on that wildest of landscapes. He wrote, “I was looking at and photographing ramshackle sheds, and old houses that were about to fall over. They were so beautiful, so expressive of the personalities who made them – that they were driving me crazy as we drove by them. I had to keep stopping the car and running out to look at them” (Ibid., p.27).
The shapes and colours of these buildings inform the geometry of the present work and the brilliantly dark, muted palette conjures the rough seas and nebulous beauty of the island. Scully has often spoken of his fascination with windows and the liminal position they occupy; allowing us a double experience. The canvas inset in Ulva is suggestive of a window, and yet in its material opposite to the surrounding steel, it also alludes to the inherent position of an island as an isolated, solitary world. The stark horizontals compete with the luxuriant, almost mesmeric black paint on the left of the composition, creating an energetic dynamic, one which the uniformity of Scully’s grey and black colouring seeks to reconcile.
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