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An image of Matter painting by Ralph Balson
Alternate image of Matter painting by Ralph Balson

Ralph Balson

(Australia 12 Aug 1890 – 1964)

Matter painting
Other titles:
(Matter painting)
Media category
Materials used
synthetic polymer paint and concrete on hardboard

67.4 x 88.4 cm sight; 81.7 x 103.0 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pale grey synthetic polymer paint "R.Balson.61".
Gift of Chris and Susannah Turle 2013. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number
© Estate of Ralph Balson
Not on display
Further information

Ralph Balson is renowned as one of Australia's leading abstract artists of the mid twentieth century. Through his rigorous and disciplined approach, Balson demonstrated his single-minded pursuit of pure painting.

This painting belongs to his series of 'Matter paintings' produced in the early 1960s. In his 'Matter paintings' Balson employed fluid and automatic techniques of pouring and trailing paint on large boards. He allowed the paint to slip and bleed across the board's surface. At times the paint would coagulate in heavy layers which cracked or rippled as they dried, creating textural effects.

During his first trip abroad in 1960, Balson saw first-hand the most recent forms of contemporary painting. He visited exhibitions of American minimalist and hard-edge painting; however it was the work of the European Tachists and textual painters such as Burri and Tapiès that made the strongest impression on him.

Bibliography (3)

David Pestorius, High achievement or creative byway: the erratic reception of Ralph Balson's 'Matter' paintings, 2003, 7, 26, 33, 57 (illus.). plate 8

Watters Gallery, Ralph Balson & James Clifford paintings, East Sydney, 1994, n.pag. (colour illus.). 4

Natalie Wilson and Anneke Jaspers, Foundation Newsletter #22, 'Curators' and coordinators' reports: Australian art', pg. 6-7, Sydney, Jun 2013, 6.

Exhibition history (3)

Ralph Balson: matter paintings, Bloomfield Galleries, Australia, 08 Jun 1988–02 Jul 1988

Ralph Balson and James Clifford paintings (1994):

Watters Gallery: 50th anniversary exhibition, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 19 Sep 2014–02 Nov 2014