The Stain Paintings 1971-80

Art Life , Exhibitions Nov 01, 2013 No Comments

From Andrew Frost

The thing that strikes you about Sydney ‘Syd’ Ball‘s Stain paintings are their sheer scale. Produced between 1971 and 1980 the works tend to the gargantuan: Great Falls for example measures in at 273 by 585 centimetres and even the ‘smaller’ works, such as Colossus, measures 159 by 190 centimetres. Working on the floor, and eschewing anything as mundane as a brush, Ball could explore the thrust and splatter of thrown and poured colours over his canvases using paint with various degrees of transparency. The result, when stretched and hung on a gallery wall, is like a massive window into a dynamic if frozen universe of painterly effects, where colour rules and the eye is forever wandering the vast spaces of these abstract fields.

QT_November 1_ Stain Paintings

The only real precedent for the size of these works are those large, academic 19th century landscapes and history paintings where scale was used to overpower the viewer with the grand sweep of their visual discovery. Perhaps not coincidentally Ball’s works carry titles with a strong connection to landscape, such as Great Falls, Columbus and Oceania, while Colossus, with its dark patterns and lighter splatters hint at the limitlessness of outer space. Many claims have been made for abstract painting, not the least of which being its alleged connection to a contemporary sublime, but in Ball’s magnificent and grandly eccentric works there’s an element of truth to this notion, suggesting spaces to fall into and never return.

Until November 16
Sullivan & Strumpf, Zetland
Pic: Sydney Ball, Great Falls [detail], 1975-76. Acrylic and enamel on cotton duck ?273 x 585cm.

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Andrew Frost

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