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  • Writer's pictureCARAVAN Arts

To Lift Our Spirits: Contemplative Art

CARAVAN Board Member Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler shares his top pick.

Sean Scully, Landline Star, 2017, Oil on aluminum, 215.9 x 190.5cm

The celebrated Irish-born abstractionist painter Sean Scully’s work leads me into another, a deeper, dimension. Paradoxically, his paintings have a calming and centering affect, while at the same open the door to journey into the transcendent, similar to the affect Marc Rothko’s work has on me. About his work, Scully says, “I’m interested in art that addresses itself to our highest aspirations… Abstraction is the art of our age… it’s a breaking down of certain structures, an opening up… Abstract art has the possibility of being incredibly generous, really out there for everybody. It’s a non-denominational religious art. I think it’s the spiritual art of our time.”

I find there to be an inherent spirituality in Scully’s paintings. As Scully says, "My work is concerned with spirituality and with a belief that human beings are sacred – I think we all are . . . For me it’s bound up with something more universal rather than belief or non-belief…. It’s about the spirituality for me, I’m not promoting a brand.”

Scully’s paintings evoke to me a universal embrace of the Sacred. “I'm basically against anything that is exclusionary” says Scully, reflecting on his work.

This work was exhibited at Sea Star: Sean Scully at the National Gallery, 13 April – 11 August 2019.


Rev Paul-Gordon Chandler is the Founding President of CARAVAN, an international peacebuilding NGO that uses the arts to build sustainable peace around the world. He is an author, peacebuilder, art curator and a U.S. Episcopal priest. An authority on the Middle East and North Africa and the Abrahamic religions, he has lived and worked in the Middle East and North Africa for many years. He grew up in Senegal, West Africa, and has served in executive leadership roles around the world with the Episcopal / Anglican Church, faith-based publishing and relief & development agencies.

From 2003-2013 he was the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cairo, Egypt, and he is a Canon at All Saints’ Cathedral, Cairo, Egypt. He is currently based in Doha, Qatar, as rector of The Anglican Church of Qatar (The Church of the Epiphany & The Anglican Centre). The author of several books, his most recent book is titled “IN SEARCH OF A PROPHET: A Spiritual Journey with Kahlil Gibran,” which focuses on the all-embracing spirituality of the early 20th century Lebanese born poet-artist and mystic, Kahlil Gibran, the author of The Prophet, presenting him a much-needed guide for our time.

More information can be found on the author website:

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