Tagged Australian modernism

Sydney Ball: supreme colourist

Sydney Ball (Australian, 1933-2017)

Ball was a leading Australian abstractionist who worked across hard-edge and geometric abstraction through to abstract expressionism. He was always preoccupied with the formal qualities of colour, and this is why I love his work so much: I immensely admire his use of colour and the way Ball created rhythm and movement in deceptively simple compositions in his paintings and original prints (especially in his geometric and hard edge styles in particular).

I’ve handpicked a couple of examples which resonate with me:

Isfahan (1967), screen print on paper, (Art Gallery of NSW). The interplay between negative and positive space is strong in this work, as is symmetry and balance. There is a quiet energy to this work, and the use of two tones of yellow creates a central inward pull of focus.  Isfahan is one of Ball’s Persian series of prints, there is a mystical quality to these works which I really respond to.

Isfahan (1967), screen print on paper, 45.8 x 91.2 cm. Image source: Art Gallery of NSW

One of Ball’s later works I would love to see in person is Chromix Lumina, (2017-18), as I would hazard a guess that the sense of space would be continually contracting and vibrating due to the interplay of colour relationships.

It is very clever, and again a deceptively simple composition which is alive with energy through the use of colour. The colours are more contemporary in contrast to Ball’s earlier works of the 1960s, a reflection perhaps of the advances in paint technology.

Suitcase #1: Sydney Ball. A discussion of Ball's beautiful formal compositions.
Chromix Lumina, (2017-18), (automotive enamel on aluminium, 240 x 260 x 5 cms. Image source: Sullivan + Strumpf

I aspire to create works such as these: spare, technically beautifully in their execution, energetic and joyful. Meditative. An essay in formalism.

Thank you Sydney Ball, one of the giants of Australian Modernism.