SARAH BALL (B. 1965)
SARAH BALL (B. 1965)
SARAH BALL (B. 1965)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
SARAH BALL (B. 1965)

Untitled (AC16)

Details
SARAH BALL (B. 1965)
Untitled (AC16)
signed and dated '2017 Sarah Ball' (on the reverse)
oil on linen
39 3/8 x 39 3/8in. (100 x 100cm.)
Painted in 2017
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Royal Academy of Arts, 250th Summer Exhibition, 2018.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Tessa Lord
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Lot Essay

Directly confronting the viewer’s gaze, Sarah Ball’s Untitled (AC16) vividly exemplifies the enigmatic power of her portrait practice. Rendered with soft yet unwaveringly precise brushstrokes, a young woman stares out of the large square canvas, her expression deeply inscrutable. Swathed in Old Masterly chiaroscuro, she inhabits a timeless, twilit realm, suspended between past and present. Ball’s deft handling of light and shadow throws her features into exquisite relief, the reflection in her eyes, the bridge of her nose and the glow of her lips subtly illuminated. Based in Cornwall, Ball scours printed and digital media for inspiration, creating paintings that are at once anonymous and deeply intimate. Though largely unknown to her—the present work was based on a police mugshot found in an archive—her subjects come alive at her touch, their identities closely interwoven with their painterly facture. Painted in 2017, the present work featured in the 250th Royal Academy Summer Exhibition the following year, as part of a selection co-ordinated by Grayson Perry.

Ball studied at Newport Art College during the 1980s, subsequently working as an illustrator for twenty years before returning to painting in the mid-2000s. With works held in the British Museum, the Kistefos Museum, Norway and the Rachofsky Collection, Dallas, she has risen to prominence over the past decade, mounting a solo exhibition at the Grace Museum, Texas in 2019 and participating in the current group show Space for Imaginative Actions at the Kunstmuseum Bonn. From her studio in the fishing town of Newlyn, she immerses herself in the study of human faces, probing the ways in which our perpetual search for identity etches itself into our features. The backdrops of her works are characteristically empty, yielding no visual clues: her subjects, as a result, begin and end as figments of the artist’s painterly process. Working in thin washes of oil that build up over time, Ball allows her figures to take shape organically: while echoes of Vermeer, Velázquez, Freud and Hockney shimmer in their surfaces, they are ultimately free of external references. The results, as eloquently demonstrated here, allow her ‘to reveal the human person in the present’ (S. Ball, quoted in C. Ashby, ‘Payback or Pleasure?’, Elephant, 17 August 2020).

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