I put the things in competition with each other. So that, instead of trying to paint a relationship, I paint the areas and put them together and that makes a relationship, that is a relationship. But the relationships are not completely controlled or they’re not completely articulated. They’re rather sculptural in that sense. So the relationships in the paintings have the possibility of extreme transience or extreme dislocation. It’s as if things are together, but they also have the possibility of asserting their independence from each other. So the paintings are relational but the relationships are at the same time independent. This has got something to do with the basic concept of the work. Usually the relationships are not painted on the surface. So I’m trying to take painting forward, in terms of content, I’m not resorting to earlier models in that regard. I keep the areas separate and I bang things together. So this involves a certain kind of violence or abruptness and it also implies the possibility that the relationships can be broken.
Sean Scully, interview with Hans-Michael Herzog, ‘The beauty of the real’,
Sean Scully (exhibition catalogue), Milan: Charta, 1996, pp. 55–131 (p. 71).