Sarah Ball’s oil paintings, subtle in their complexity, are intended for the viewer to encounter the portrait’s subject intimately. The practice of physiognomy, or judging the character of a person just from their facial features or expressions, has long been a subject of fascination for the artist. In efforts like her current Anima Mundi show “Themself,” she culls her subjects from historic photographic archives, social media, and beyond. “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,” the gallery says.
“Ball’s muses are mostly surrounded by muted backgrounds, which engender a profound sense of solitude,” a statement says. “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.”