Around fifteen years ago Scully began to simplify the often complex patterns in his work up to then. Where lines of different direction were included they did not cross but simply abutted. In the early 1980s he began to make paintings with relief elements. He said, 'I liked the idea of looking at a painting that you could not look at just from the front but had to move around.' The triptych form of this work was deliberately chosen. Scully was very aware of the religious associations of this format. It also presented him with the possibility of 'putting something in the middle.' 'Paul' was painted about a year after the artist's son died, and was dedicated to his memory.