During the late 1960s and 1970s, Sydney Ball worked on various series of paintings, that although stylistically diverse, consistently reflected the artist's primary concern for exploring the dimensions of colour abstraction. His 'Modular' series, produced between 1968-69 revealed the artist's interest in the sculptural dimensions of colour painting, furthering his investigations of hard edge colour and form initiated in his 'Cantos' series by creating abstractions as wall mounted geometrical structures.
Ball claims that it was through an interest in Anthony Caro's use of sculptural spaces that he began, in the 'Modular' series, to consider 'breaking open the picture, to get out into the negative area, and to use that negative area as part of the positive painting shapes' (Denise Mimmocchi, Simon Ives interview with the artist April 2010). Attuned to the sculptural Ball's 'Modular' works provide a structural sense of colour that by combining panels of acrylic and enamel boards visually oscillate between the material effects of mattenous flatness and reflective gloss.
'Black reveal' highlights the surface 'double take' that Ball intended for this series. Painted at a time when Ball began incorporating enamel paints in his works, 'Black reveal' suggests how an artist's materials featured as part of the visual language of modern painting as a crucial component in contemporary colour expression.
synthetic polymer paint on canvas and enamel on gilder plywood
157.0 x 289.3 x 4.4 cm
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.l. verso on plywood, black fibre-tipped pen ".../ SYDNEY BALL/ 1969".
Gift of the artist 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Not on display
© Sydney Ball. Courtesy of the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney
Shown in 8 exhibitions
Sydney Ball (1969), Bonython Art Gallery [Sydney], Paddington, 10 Jun 1969–02 Jul 1969
First Leasing Art Prize (1970), National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne, 21 Sep 1970–25 Oct 1970
Sydney Ball survey 1965-1975, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, 08 Oct 1975–02 Nov 1975
Sydney Ball: Modular Paintings 1968-1969, Sarah Cottier Gallery, Paddington, 21 Mar 2003–26 Apr 2003
2003: The year in art, S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 08 Nov 2003–14 Dec 2003
Sydney Ball: The colour paintings (2009-2010):
- Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, Emu Plains 08 Nov 2008–25 Jan 2009
- McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park, Langwarrin 15 Feb 2009–26 Apr 2009
21st Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 16 Mar 2018–11 Jun 2018
Colourwheel [tour], Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Jan 2020–31 Dec 2022
Referenced in 4 publications
Janine Burke, Sydney Ball survey 1965-1975, 'Modulars', Newcastle, 1975, n.pag.. cat.no. 13; dated 1968
Anne Loxley, Sydney Ball: the colour paintings 1963-2007, 'The colour paintings 1963-2007', pg. 25-72, Penrith, 2008, 40-41 (colour illus.), 73.
National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], First Leasing Art Prize 1970, Melbourne, 1970, n.pag..
Sarah Cottier Gallery (Compilator), Sydney Ball: modular paintings 1968-69, Sydney, 2003, n.pag.. cat.no. 2; dated 1969