Martin Ball

 New Zealand b. 1952

Martin Ball (b.1952) is renowned for his hyper-realist, large-scale painted portraits of recent years. These works represent a culmination of Ball’s ongoing interest in portraiture and realism that has spanned more than three decades. Ball has focussed on a variety of subject matter since the early stages of his career including landscape, still-life and portraiture. Although his subjects range from the intensely detailed to the minimal, he has consistently worked in the style of realism. His works invariably display a graphic quality, achievable through his careful handling of the mediums he employs. Ball’s incredible technical skill - evident in his use of pencil, graphite and more recently oil - is a testament to his disciplined approach to art-making.

In 2000, Ball produced a suite of five portraits featuring significant New Zealand artists including Arnold Wilson, Stanley Palmer, Dick Frizzell, Robert Ellis and Ralph Hotere. Since this initial series, he has continued to work with this successful formula; large-scale, pared back and focussing solely on the subjects head and shoulders. Ball generally works with photographs in preparation for his paintings. During the early stages of his career, these images were frequently taken from magazines but over recent years he has chosen to take his own photographs of his selected subjects. His refined technical ability in numerous mediums enables him to work easily as a photo-realist, however these images must be considered as representations, rather than direct replicas of the subjects. In each case Ball offers a heightened view of the sitter. He has consistently shown an interest in painting the physical aspects of the photograph itself, focusing on achieving a slightly grainy quality.

In 2005 and again in 2010, Martin Ball was selected as a finalist for the Archibald Prize held at New South Wales Gallery. This distinguished prize is awarded in recognition of excellence in the genre of portraiture. More recently, he exhibited as a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards, consequently winning the Peoples Choice Award, 2006. Ball has produced a number of successful commissions and his works are held in numerous private collections and public institutes including Auckland Art Gallery, Christchurch Art Gallery, Waikato Museum and Sarjeant Gallery.

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