Barbara Balmer’s pictures have a curious, even surreal, edge. In her instantly recognisable style, she took the everyday and simplified it into shapes and patterns filled with subtle gradations of colour. Balmer produced work over five decades. Her quiet, often large-scale oils, belie a poetry of mood. Their stillness gives way to a range of emotions: from nostalgia to unease. Balmer’s technical virtuosity is clear to see, and so too that her technique and style sets her apart from her contemporaries.
The artist’s poetic sensibilities are perhaps best summarised by the art critic W. Gordon Smith: ‘I am reminded of Saladin’s scimitar scything silk. Landscape and interiors veiled in pink and lilac mist. Skies showering confetti instead of snow. Breezes are zephyrs. Beds invite the rapture of sleep. Intimate portraits beguile, she is sorcerer and illusionist, yet the world she makes is real.’