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Sarah Ball – ‘Themself’

by Anima Mundi | St Ives
Date of event: 26/07/19 - 06/09/19
Artist: Sarah Ball

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

With ‘Themself’, Ball’s broad lens is focused upon idiosyncratic explorations in to the outer presentation of the ‘self’ which support, subvert, enhance, manipulate, exaggerate or elaborate upon traditional, binary norms, in areas including gender and sexuality.

The reference for Sarah Ball’s exquisite portrait paintings come from in-depth research of an anonymous and eclectic range of historic photographic archives alongside more ubiquitous contemporary sources such as social media. These source images become a starting point for a methodical process of understanding, assumption and translation, where the aesthetic ‘mask’ and what lies beneath become the focus of engagement.

Ball’s muses are mostly surrounded by muted backgrounds, which engender a profound sense of solitude. This aspect envelopes delicately rendered passages of oil paint, perhaps detailing the protagonists clothing or hair, often giving emphasis to a defining characteristic of the sitters visual identity. These intrinsic details are captured with intensity, revealing an intimacy combined and juxtaposed with more minimalist elements which reflect a greater sense of absence or disconnect. These components enshroud the luminescent skin of the subject, always anchored by deep pooling eyes which further captivate. However, Ball’s works also offer up a challenge to the viewer, often by confronting societal assumption and prejudice. Previous exhibition subjects have included historic photographic immigration archives alongside ‘mug shot’ archives of the accused. With 'Themself', Ball’s broad lens is focussed upon idiosyncratic explorations in to the outer presentation of the ‘self’ which support, subvert, enhance, manipulate, exaggerate or elaborate upon traditional, binary norms, in areas including gender and sexuality. The artist, and in turn the viewers, response is key, where both are drawn in to an empathetic, unspoken dialogue with the anonymous protagonist of the work. ‘Self’ relates to the conscious and subconscious factors which affect our assumptions and interactions, when forming the socially constructed characteristics which define us all in the 21st Century.

Enquiries: Alice Howard or Jamie Mills / [email protected] / +44 (0)1736 793121