Brian Ballard (b.1942)

Soft Forms, 1972

Oil on canvas

137 x 137cm

Government Art Collection

Brian Ballard was born in Belfast, where he first trained at the College of Art, followed by further studies in Liverpool. Some of the first group exhibitions that he participated in were the Butlin Foundation for Young Irish Artists, held at the Arts Council Gallery, Belfast in 1967 and Seven North of Ireland Painters at David Hendrick’s Gallery, Dublin in 1969. His first solo exhibition was held at the Queen’s Gallery, Belfast in 1970. Today Ballard’s paintings have become more figurative in style, focusing on still life, figure studies and landscapes. He lives and works on the remote island of Inishfree off the coast of Donegal, where the natural environment and light provide him with great sources of inspiration. Since the 1970s he has continued to exhibit regularly in Belfast, Dublin, Galway, London and Bath. Works by Ballard are represented in numerous public and corporate art collections including the Ulster Museum, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the National Trust and the Irish Intercontinental Bank.

Soft Forms is an example of Brian Ballard’s early work which is significantly different in style to the type of painting he makes today. His arrangement of abstract forms against a background resembles a metal grid or cage, creating a collage-like effect. The indistinguishable ‘soft forms’ of the title seem to float ephemerally in front of the repetitive pattern of the grid beneath that makes a visual contrast between both. This is one of a series of paintings made by the artist in the 1970s, several of which were exhibited during a retrospective exhibition of his work at the Ormeau Baths Gallery in 2014.