SARAH BALL 'ACCUSED : PART 2' - 26/7 TO 27/8/13


What does a portrait represent? Can a portrait ever claim to capture the identity of the sitter beyond the superficial? Albert Einstein once stated; ďA human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe... We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us...Ē So how can the artist hope to represent that which remains out of reach? A portrait therefore can only represent an attempt to breach ones own prison. It can inspire a glimpse out (of ourselves) and propel us towards a glimpse in (to another). This attempt to connect paints a picture in part of disconnection; the bridge to cross is one of empathy. Sarah Ballís paintings taken from mug shot photographs enforce this notion in an intriguing way.

Photography creates an immediate perception of character and so the identity of the object is a product of that instant perception. With mug shotís there are relatively few Ďtellsí due to an insisted inherent expressive blankness on the face of the accused. They are not memorabilia, not sentimental, not imbued or weighted by emotion, they are the opposite of what photographs often represent Ė What do we notice in the absence of such freighted theatricality Ė isolation, defiance, vulnerability, truth? The only clue, the only other thing that we have to make our judgment on this person is that they are perhaps a criminal Ė in the absence of all else it is the sum of who they are Ė is this enough to complete our picture? This is frequently the case for Ball also, who often knows little else of the subject or their fate, so unlike the painter who can sit with the subject and attempt through discourse or familiarity to reveal a truth, all Ball has is the silent engagement with her own processes of sympathetic identification. She claims that the objective is not simply in searching for a figurative likeness, but the essence to make the painting right.

This exhibition is a continuation of a body of work, the first part of which was exhibited at Millennium last year. It focuses more specifically on groups of people; from civil rights movement activists, fire raisers (members of the KKK) and poisoners alongside people whose crimes were suspicious, dangerous or simply unknown. Some of the crimes are despicable whilst others may have been heroic. The collective creates a very human portrait, of the shifting nature of right and wrong. Enforcing the changing subjectivity of judgment - these portraits challenge us to move beyond our own positive or negative judgments, if that is possible?

Controversial film maker David Cronenberg stated; ďAs an artist you look into yourself to understand the human potential to be all kinds of things that are not necessarily pleasant but are real - a criminal, a murderer, a sadist, a rapist; to be all of these things that many people are. You canít allow yourself to say, ĎIím a different species from those people.í Because you arenít. The criminal as monster is kind of common. Thatís very convenient because you can then say, ĎOf course Iím not a monster, therefore Iím not a criminal therefore I have no potential in tern of criminality.í And that lets you off the hook. That gives you a nice wall between yourself and them.Ē Sarah Ballís greatest achievement with these intimate works is to effectively break down walls and create bridges Ė for me the function of art itself.


Joseph Clarke . 2013


1 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




2 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




3 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




4 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




5 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




6 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




7 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




8 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




9 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




10 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




11 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




12 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




13 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




14 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




15 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




16 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




17 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




18 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




19 . Activist
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




20 . Fire Raiser
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




21 . Fire Raiser
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




22 . Fire Raiser
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




23 . Fire Raiser
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




24 . Poisoner
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




25 . Poisoner
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




26 . Poisoner
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




27 . Poisoner
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




28 . Poisoner
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




29 . Suspicious and Dangerous Person
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




30 . Suspicious and Dangerous Person
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




31 . Suspicious and Dangerous Person
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




32 . Suspicious and Dangerous Person
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




33 . Suspicious and Dangerous Person
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




34 . Unknown
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




35 . Unknown
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




36 . Unknown
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




37 . Unknown
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




38 . Unknown . oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




39 . Unknown
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




40 . Unknown
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm




41 . Unknown
oil on gessoed panel . 18 x 13 cm