2010 SYDNEY BALL: STAIN PAINTINGS FROM NEW YORK C 1971 & STRUCTURES 3
The New York Stain Paintings c 1971
The following extract is taken from ‘Sydney Ball: prophet of abstraction’ by Wendy Walker, Sydney Ball: The Colour Paintings 1963–2007, p21
The emergence at the end of the 1990s of an insistent form in Ball’s paintings – reminiscent of shapes in early drawings of rock formations from his landscape works – gave rise to the asymmetrical, ragged-edged motifs in the abstract paintings of Structures 1, exhibited at Sullivan+Strumpf Fine Art in 2005. Striking in its formal ascetic restraint, the subtitle of Structures 2 (2007), Abstract Architecture, is an indication that Ball’s point of reference for the new series of work was architectural form in space; specifically, both the contemporary architecture of Zaha Hadid and the reductive modernist constructions of Mies van der Rohe (prior to his art studies Ball’s background was in architecture).
The dynamism of Ball’s paintings is predicated on arigorous attention to the nuances of colour relationships. His selection of colours (secondary and tertiary) is compelling for they are rarely straightforward and frequently unexpected.
From the outset, Ball has maintained that the circle motif – critical to the graphic potency of the highly-resolved Cantos – represented the Chinese symbol for infinity. In the vibrant paintings of the 2007 Structures 2 series Ball reinstates the disc within a square as a strategy (as it was in the 1960s) for the introduction of additional colour.
Ball’s oeuvre may be regarded as a succession of evolutions, in which each concept is comp-rehensively worked through and continually reassessed, so that even within series there is conscious variation. Paralleling the ambitious scale of his paintings is a continual desire to push the boundaries. This willingness to experiment and to take risks propelled his move to New York and, later, his extensive travels in Japan, China, Korea and India, where he sought out sites of spiritual and cultural significance. His journey has resulted in a remarkable body of work of which the enduringly authoritative colour paintings in this exhibition are a significant part.