The Abstract Colourist Trend Sweeping Australia's Art Scene

The Abstract Colourist Trend Sweeping Australia's Art Scene
The work of Sydney Ball, Stephen Ormandy and Yanni Pounartzis (Left to Right)

An interesting new trend has emerged in the Australian art world (Sydney in particular) that is characterised by the bold use of colour in minimalist abstract geometric configurations that feature elements reminiscent of the work of artists such as Frank Stella, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.

Although different in execution and approach, the three artists whose work fits the current trend all exhibit an interest in working with colour, line and shape in their purest forms.


At Sydney art dealers Sullivan and Strumpf the striking work of Sydney Ball is impossible to ignore.  A pioneer of Australian Abstraction who has stayed true to his colourist roots, Ball has remained somewhat of an underrated and undervalued artist because of his devotion to a style and philosophy that is not as marketable as it should be.

Currently on show at Sullivan and Strumpf until the 1st of December, Ball’s "Infinex II" series consists of a dazzling array of eye-popping architectural statements that challenge the way colour and space co-exist.

According to the artist, “The series emphasise the colour, the process and the event. Everything in the construction is an interplay of shapes and colours; the clarification and articulation of the idea is achieved through the physical reality of material and can be defined as architectural geometry in space; their handling is never disguised”   

Over at the Tim Olsen Gallery in Woollahra, an exhibition of new work by Stephen Ormandy titled "Polychromatism" provides an interesting parallel to the work of Sydney Ball.  Although he takes a more organic approach to his exploration of colour and form, Ormandy’s sculptures and paintings still exhibit a strong connection with the abstract colourist aesthetic.   

The Gallery website explains that: “This exhibition Polychromatism shows Ormandy’s exploration of chroma relationships between his sculptural forms and his paintings. There is a clear dialogue between the different surfaces and shapes and it is evident that one informs the other in constant play.”

Last but not least, an exhibition of work by Yanni Pounartzis will open at Global Gallery in Paddington on the 21st of November.  In the exhibition which has been given the title "The Deconstructions", Pounartzis focuses on perspectival investigations. Using geometric mazes of bold colour, the artist creates encapsulating and hypnotic environments that draw the viewer deep within.

“Yanni’s colours are lively and spirited. It's not what the colours are, it's what they do together, how they breathe and are elevated to something beyond their beginning. The paintings are miraculous, dramatic and tantalising to the eye, yet retain an unarguable intimacy,” a statement on the gallery website explains.

What to make of this interesting ? Perhaps it is a reflection of the current interior design trend which is characterised by geometric patterns, bright colours and retro furnishings.  Or, if you are looking for a more art historically “correct” explanation, perhaps not.  Regardless of the reason behind the trend, there is no denying the appeal of these works.