Colour and Form: Works on Paper from the Estate 1965-2017
Sydney Ball is widely considered a pioneer in Australian Abstraction and his long and impressive career has had a formidable impact on Australian art. Definitively a colourist, Ball spent his formative years living and studying in New York at the Art Students League under Theodoros Stamos, one of the ‘irascible eighteen’, which also included Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.
Ball’s oeuvre is expansive and diverse, with each series marked by a monumental and dynamic change. All, however, share the prerogative to investigate the possibilities of colour and form; from the lyrical abstraction that defines his Stain paintings to the architectonic coloured forms of his famed Modular works. Ball continued to ambitiously push the limits of his own practice to greater heights while also having significant relevance as a contemporary Australian artist.
Colour and Form: Works on paper from the Estate 1965-2017 investigates Ball’s great love of paper and includes rare works from the 1960s and 1970s—including early drawings from his Canto series and prints from both his Persian and Stain series. The exhibition also features a collection of watercolour studies that informed Ball’s iconic Infinex series begun more recently in 2010. These bodies of work are distinctly different to one another yet intrinsically connected by their considered reimagining of the ways space, form, light and colour interrelate.
Through these elements, Ball called into question not only our relationship to and understanding of colour and form, but what else they might be. In an interview with Anne Loxley in 2008, the artist ruminates on this intention in relation to his Canto series, which he pursued for almost four decades, “I was after more than the opticality of painting; I needed that sublime quality where you know there’s something else happening within the work, which is not just optical — perhaps like great music where you hear a piece and it comes together so well you know it was perfect, the essence is there.”
True to his word, there is a vibrant harmony that infuses Ball’s work and reverberates throughout the exhibition. Spanning the artist’s career, these pivotal works are statements of pure colour and form, shown together for the very first time at here Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney.