Sean Scully at Cuadra San Cristobal

This Critics’ Pick of Sean Scully’s show at Cuadra San Cristobal in Mexico appeared on

View of “Sean Scully: San Cristóbal,” 2018.

Displayed in stable stalls and outdoors at Cuadra San Cristóbal, on the outskirts of Mexico City, Sean Scully’s paintings and sculptures gain a lot from their unusual setting. The Luis Barragán–designed private residence and equestrian center is all vibrant color and clean lines. Although his palette is much wider than Barragán’s own and his bands of color are fuzzier around the edges, the artist’s works resonate with and meld into their semi-rural surroundings. Take Landline That Pink, 2017, for instance, whose very title pays homage to the architect’s signature hue.

The juxtaposition of Scully’s and Barragán’s work brings out the latter’s use of color as a material in its own right, as well as the architectural elements of the former’s output. Mounted on the walls in a row of stables strewn with pungent sawdust, oil-on-aluminum or copper paintings are categorized into four groups by their titles, as “wall,” “window,” “landline,” or “robe.” These recurring words offer a way to read the alternating horizontal and vertical stripes—brick-like and pleated patterns that edge toward figuration. In the context of a horse’s stall, the barred openings of the pair of paintings that constitute Untitled (Window), 2017, evoke a prison. The sequence of paintings presented in the stables culminates with Ghost, 2017, the most obviously representational of the works on view, featuring an American flag whose fallen stars lie in a heap beneath a phantom revolver that has taken their place. Stark against a blanched rectangle, drained of blue, it is a poignant comment on the gun culture rending the United States apart.