Artist | Niel Bally (*1951)

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Artist Portfolio Catalogue Overview \ 6

    • Niel Bally

    • Niel Bally

    • Niel Bally

    • Niel Bally

    • Niel Bally

    • Niel Bally




1951 Born, Wantage, UK
1955 Moved to wales
1969 - 70 Ruskin School of Art, Oxford
1970 - 74 West Surrey College of Art & Design, Fine Art Department
1975 - 89 Visiting and Part-time lecturer to: Camden, Central & Putney Institutes; Canterbury, Chelsea,City & Guilds, Kingston and Wimbledon Schools of Art
1986 - 87 Lived in Mexico
1992 - 95 Lived in South Africa

Solo Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

1998 Coningsby Gallery,London
1996/95 Studio Shows,London
1993 Canvas Gallery, London
1991 Brian Sinfield Gallery, Burford
1988 Stephen Bartley Gallery,London
1988 Chelsea Arts Club, London
1987 Hurlingham Gallery,London
1986 Carew-Jones Associates, London
1985/84 Studio Shows, London

Group Exhibitions (selection)

Group Exhibitions (selection)

1996 Bruton Street Gallery, London
1996 Jonathan Cooper Gallery, London
1995 Art First, London
1995/94/93 Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg
1995 Primart, Cape Town
1995 Rhodes University, Grahamstown
1993 Alton Gallery, London
1992 Art Scene, Cape Town
1992 The Large Print Show, Jill George Gallery, London
1992 The Print Show, John Jones Gallery, London
1991 England & Co, London
1990 Cadogan Contemporary, London
1990/89/88 Royal Watercolour Society, London
1990/88/85/83/76/75 Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions
1990/89/88 Galeria Internacional de Arte, Portugal
1988 Art Market, Contemporary Art Society, Covent Garden, London
1985 Industrial Sponsors, Arthur Young Plc. London
1984 Odette Gilbert Gallery, London
1982 Artists in Adult Education, Camden Arts Centre, London
1978 Whitechapel Open, London
1976 Pictures for Schools, Cardiff Museum



1998 University of Glamorgan Purchase Prize Awards
1998 Hunting Prize Awards, (Regional Prize- winner), at the Royal College of Art, London and Newport Museum, Wales .
1997 Hunting Prize Awards, RCA, London & at The Hunterian Museum,Glasgow
1996 Hunting Prize Awards, RCA, London

Public and Corporate Collections

Public and Corporate Collections

ABSA Bank, South Africa
BP International
Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society
CSO Valuations,London
Sheffield City Art Galleries
Stellenbosch University Museum, SA
The Reserve Bank of South Africa

About the work (english)

About the work (english)

Beyond The Screen

Niel Bally’s latest paintings created in his Welsh studio in the shadow of the Black

Mountains are a startling departure from the tenor of his previous work. They are

sombre in colour after the opulent scarlet, turquoise blues, high- pitched greens and

orange tones of the landscapes he produced during the early 1990’s in South Africa

and the mid 1980’s in Mexico.

The first thing one should say is that Niel Bally has not retreated from colour. He has made fewer colours work more intensely and with far more subtle effect. And he has turned away from the straightforward depiction of particular landscapes to a much more allusive way of making paintings. Central to his new work is a series of canvases he broadly refers to as “screens”. These ostensibly are images of ancient wooden partitions executed in a flat modernist manner.

Gaze at these works a little longer and it is obvious that they are full of nuances of meaning, and pervaded by a paradoxical sense of depth and space. The eye takes in the optical clues indicating wooden planks, hinges and rectangular shapes. At a superficial level the description of ‘screen’ makes sense. But these screens are like Alice’s looking glass. We find ourselves passing through what at first appears to be solid, into a world where nothing is quite what it seems.

Indeterminate shapes float on a liquid surface of subtle glazes. There are faint marks which remind one of images on cave walls, and ancient script which defies interpretation. There is a paradox when thinking of these works as screens. A screen serves to hide but these screens lead one through and beyond them. To me these paintings seem to speak not just of what is seen, but about memory and history, and the emotions associated with such formidable subjects; of what is hidden, whether in the past or in the future; and what is dreamlike - just beyond our reach.

Niel Bally came to a vital crisis point in his painting after returning from South Africa in 1995. Gradually his landscape painting had moved indoors to become more centred on studio work embracing memory and imagination, and his deep inclination was to move further on, towards a way of working “more digested and abstract”. He was able to draw upon a large bank of visual memory. His increasingly more internal approach opened his painting up to other influences. “Many things surface - from what is assimilated or perhaps the subconscious.

A clue to the significance of much of the more obvious subject matter in his recent paintings can be found in Niel Bally’s early childhood. He was four years old in 1955 when his family moved to a farm on the Welsh Borders between Crickhowell and Llanthony Abbey. “It was pretty primitive” , he says , “and oil lamps were still in use.”

The farm years were extremely formative ones for him. He recalls the many hours exploring the interiors and surfaces of old buildings and ruins. “It’s difficult to avoid being facinated by materials that noticeably weather and reveal their history”.Memories of that time are still vivid for him.

In exploring in painterly form his own early sensations, Niel Bally goes further into a wider realm embracing all our pasts. Not just his own childhood, but a universal prehistory seems to be evoked in these canvases. His large “Partition” of 1998 might also be read as a double gateway - two mysterious portals which lead through to an ancient tomb or chamber. The imagery of wooden planks has a hieratic quality. Upright timbers confront us in his paintings like ancient dolmens, standing proud through millennia as signposts to the past and future. The occasional symbols which crop up as punctuation marks in the abstract painterliness of his canvases share this ambiguous quality of being both sacred and profane - wineglasses which may also be chalices; vases containing lilies. These are paintings with complex layers of meaning echoing the complex layers of translucent paint which give them their visual depths. They do not offer instantly understandable imagery.
“ To name the thing means forsaking three quarters of a poem’s enjoyment - which is derived from unravelling it gradually, by happy guesswork:” said Arthur Koestler, “ To suggest the thing creates the dream.”

Text by: Robert Macdonald, August 1998

Information and Catalogue

Information and Catalogue

Wern Fawr Studios
GB - Powys LD3 0DY

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Exhibition History 

Exhibition History

SUMMARY based on artist-info records. More details and Visualizing Art Networks on demand.
Venue types: Gallery / Museum / Non-Profit / Collector
Exhibitions in artist-info 3 (S 2/ G 1) Shown Artists - 1 of 1 artists
(no. of shows) - all shows - Top 100
Manuel Esteban (1)- 1
Exhibitions by type
3:   2 / 0 / 0 / 1
Venues by type
3:   2 / 0 / 0 / 1
Curators 0
artist-info records Mar 1996 - Apr 2015
Countries - Top 2 of 2
United Kingdom (2)
Germany (1)
Cities 2 - Top of 2
London (2)
Frankfurt am Main (1)
Venues (no. of shows ) Top 3 of 3
Deutsche Bank Collection - Artists (1)
The Bruton Street Gallery (1)
Coningsby Gallery (1)
Curators (no. of shows) Top 0 of 0
Offers/Requests Exhibition Announcement S / G Solo/Group Exhibitions   (..) Exhibitions + Favorites
Deutsche Bank Collection - Artists S Apr 2015 - Apr 2015 Frankfurt am Main (1) +0
Coningsby Gallery S Nov 1998 - Nov 1998 London (56) +0
The Bruton Street Gallery G Mar 1996 - Mar 1996 London (48) +0