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Brian Ballard

Brian Ballard

Born in Belfast, Brian Ballard trained firstly at the College of Art, Belfast and then at the College of Art, Liverpool. He still lives in Belfast but spends long periods of time living and working in his house on the remote and rugged island of Inishfree off the coast of Donegal.

Brian Ballard enjoys painting and is constantly inspired by his response to the ordinary things, such as a vase of flowers, an old iron, a figure, a landscape, a model in his studio. He tends to work in intense bursts of creativity; surges of self-expression that often punctuate periods of restless inactivity. Once started, he may paint the same subject several times, a change of light, of weather, another viewpoint, a difference of scale or proportion of canvas being sufficient to prompt another exploration of the theme. The landscapes he paints are often harsh and untamed such as those off the coast of Donegal or Kerry. He paints the same scenes repeatedly in order to gain the confidence to express its many moods in paint. These landscapes are painted 'en plein air', in front of the subject.

Ballard prefers those moments when the sun infused the landscape with colour and chiaroscuro. Ballard is a rich colourist and is interested in the contrasting colours and textures in simple subjects. Painting directly onto the canvas with vigorous brushstrokes, he uses bold slashes of rich colour across a solid and heavily laden with fluid paint in which the bristles always leave their mark of speed and pressure, they are subject to a structural order, as well as a pictorial depth. He strives for balance in his work and his struggle is always centred on a concern to create a subtle harmony of colour and form, a search for the 'structure of a painting' and a desire to entice and lead the eye where he wants it to go.

Brian Ballard handles a paintbrush with confidence and a sense of purpose, suppressing details in order to capture an object in bold, decisive strokes. Ballard is concerned with the essence he sees in things. His subjects are always comfortable recognisable, but his treatment of them is invariably painterly and not an alternative to a photograph. He admires artists like Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, who painted in hard strokes with courage and audacity; for this is his way.

Exhibition History

Selected Group Exhibitions:

1967Butlin Foundation for Young Irish Artists, Arts Council Gallery, Belfast
Duchas Exhibition, Queen's University Gallery
1969Seven North of Ireland Painters, David Hendrick's Gallery, Dublin
Contemporary Irish Painting, Part Square Gallery, Leeds and Glasgow
1970David Hendrick's Gallery, Dublin
1971Art Spectrum, Ulster
1982Listowel International Biennale III
1989Images of Mourne, Narrow Water Gallery, Warrenpoint
"Salute to Turner", Thos Agnew & Sons, London
1990Images from Ireland, Brussels
1995-6Solomon Gallery, Dublin
1996Banquet Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy
1998Ansteys Galleries, Harrogate
1999Art Miami

Solo Exhibitions:

1970Queen's Gallery, Belfast
1972Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1974Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1976Bell Gallery, Belfast
1977Image Gallery, Dublin
1980Image Gallery, Dublin
1982Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1983Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1985Newry & Mourne Arts Centre
1986Grafton Gallery, Dublin
Main Fine Art, Glasgow
1987Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
Solomon Gallery, London
Beaux Arts, Bath
1988Solomon Gallery, London
Kerlin Gallery, Derry
1989Grafton Gallery, Dublin
Beaux Arts, Bath
1990Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
Mistral Galleries, London
1991Beaux Arts, Bath
Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
1992Waterman Fine Art, London
1993Cadogan Contemporary, London
1994Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast
1995Cadogan Contemporary, London
Trist Ann's Gallery, Dundalk
1996Solomon Gallery, London
1998Solomon Gallery, London
Cadogan Contemporary, London
1999Trist Ann's Gallery, Dundalk
2001The Kenny Gallery, Galway
2003The Kenny Gallery, Galway


  • Ulster Museum
  • Crawford Municipal Gallery, Cork
  • An Comhairle Eala�/Arts Council of Ireland
  • Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  • Great Southern Hotels
  • Harverty Trust
  • A.I.B.
  • Jefferson Smurfit Group Plc
  • P.J. Carroll
  • Salzburg Seminar
  • Ulster Television
  • Belfast Education & Library Board
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Guinness Peat Aviation
  • Waterford Crystal Plc
  • National Trust
  • U2
  • C.R. Sugar Trading
  • Conrad International Hotel, Dublin
  • Irish Intercontinental Bank