25/08/2021

Sean Scully, the painter who did not love the Catalan language

2 min
Sean Scully, in an archive image in Montserrat

BarcelonaThe abstract painter Sean Scully and his wife, the artist Liliane Tomasko, have decided to leave Barcelona and go to live in the south of France due to the insistence of the Catalans on speaking Catalan in front of him and the fact that his son was expected to learn this language at school. This is what Scully himself, North American of Irish origin, declared in a report in the Financial Times , where he states: "In Barcelona you would go to meetings and they would speak completely in Catalan, as if to say, "Fuck you!»".

Scully had opened his studio in Barcelona in 1994 (25 years ago!) and lived between the Catalan capital, Munich, and New York. In 2015 the painter opened the Sean Scully Art Space in the chapel of the Santa Cecília monastery, in Montserrat, and also negotiated with the City Council to find a place to exhibit 200 of his works, but the efforts were unsuccessful.

It is surprising that people with such an artistic and cultural sensitivity as this couple decide to leave a place because the local population insists on speaking their own language, especially coming from an Irishman (perhaps there is a hidden feeling of guilt because they did abandon their language for that of the English invader). But the news, widely disseminated by the Spanish media, confronts us Catalans with an undeniable reality. There is a supposedly cosmopolitan class (artists, top managers, etc., people who haven't come here to scrub stairs) who claim their right not to integrate into the local culture and who consider that it is the others who have to make the effort to adapt to them. And even more so when this culture, like the Catalan one, does not have a state that makes it, in the eyes of the world, a normal culture (like the Portuguese). Evidently, this attitude is based on a cultural and class supremacism that, fortunately, is becoming more and more minority and even extravagant.

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