That’s as a result of in February the British painter — who can be an avid horticulturalist — took a critical tumble whereas tending to her vegetable backyard at dwelling in coastal Cornwall. She broke her ankle so badly that she needed to have surgical procedure and was getting round with a wheelchair as she recuperated. For a time she was barely capable of make it into her studio, not to mention fly throughout the Atlantic to attend her first solo exhibition at a significant artwork truthful.
“I had just managed to finish the work before I broke my ankle, which was amazing timing,” Ms. Ball, 56, mentioned with a delicate chuckle throughout a video interview, including that she acquired some assist varnishing the works earlier than her surgical procedure. “To be having a solo booth is terrifically exciting; I just wish I could go.”
But it’s a reasonably protected guess that this is not going to be her final alternative for accolades at an artwork truthful. Though Ms. Ball has been an artist her total life, worldwide recognition for her intimate and intense portraits has come comparatively just lately. That’s partially because of signing final 12 months with the Stephen Friedman Gallery, which represents outstanding artists like Yinka Shonibare, Kehinde Wiley and Lisa Brice.
At Frieze, the gallery will show a couple of half-dozen works from her ongoing sequence of portraits that play with themes like sexuality and id, one thing she mentioned was partly influenced by rising up throughout a time when musicians like David Bowie, Chrissie Hynde and Poly Styrene had been experimenting with gender self-expression.
Born in Yorkshire, Ms. Ball at all times needed to be a painter. But when she was in artwork college within the Nineteen Eighties, a lot of the main focus was on the conceptual facet of latest artwork. “I was making very figurative paintings, which was very not what was happening in the art world then,” she mentioned.
It was urged that as an alternative she transfer extra into illustrations and graphics. So for nearly a decade she was an illustrator, doing tasks for the National Theater in addition to plenty of e-book covers. “But,” she mentioned, “I always knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
After having two youngsters — a son and daughter, now each of their 20s — she determined to finish an M.F.A. at Bath Spa University in 2005 and return full time to portray. “Having children made me realize that I really wanted to pursue my own work,” she mentioned. “This happens in life as you mature; you just question things.”
Her artwork hints at many inspirations: the stillness of Vermeer, Seventeenth- and 18th-century Flemish artists, and up to date painters like Lucian Freud and David Hockney.
Ms. Ball mentioned that filmmakers like Terrence Malick and Roy Andersson additionally motivated her work. “These little vignettes that give you a little bit of information,” she mentioned, “but then invite you to fill in the rest, they sort of ask a lot of the audience.”
That is one thing lots of her admirers say they’re drawn to in her works. Michael Taylor, co-founder of the London print gallery Paupers Press, mentioned that the primary time he got here throughout her smaller print portraits, he was struck by their surreal and timeless magnificence. “You felt there was some narrative behind these faces,” he mentioned, recalling how guests got here to view Ms. Ball’s works at a print truthful in New York just a few years in the past.
“There was something historical, social, political, whatever that belied their simplicity,” he mentioned. “And I found that a very powerful combination.”
Ms. Ball works from pictures — ones she has discovered on social media, for instance — and doesn’t purpose to create a “true and utter” likeness. After asking permission, she typically exchanges messages with the topic, however she chooses to not meet them. “The idea of having a conversation while I’m working is not for me,” she mentioned.
In 2015, a Cornwall gallery exhibited her portraits of immigrants who handed via Ellis Island in New York Harbor to enter the United States. The phrase “immigrants,” she wrote, “is weapon, a political pawn, a tabloid headline, to the point that one might forget that we are dealing with human beings.”
Ms. Ball’s works have been exhibited in exhibits at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Victoria & Albert Museum, each in London, and are a part of the everlasting collections of the British Museum and Norway’s Kistefos Museum.
“We’ve been inundated with all kinds of requests to see images of the new work, and I am really excited for her,” Mr. Friedman mentioned. “There is a great buzz.”
Owners of her work are additionally enthusiastic. Beth Rudin DeWoody, a New York-based collector who’s on the boards of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, owns six of her work.
“When I bought the first work, I had no idea what was going to happen with her career, but I knew she was really talented,” she mentioned, including that she had just a few from the “Immigrants” sequence. “There’s just something so compelling about them.”