Colour is a kind of bliss


“Colour is a kind of bliss” explores the modalities of abstraction – especially the expressive qualities of colour, light and form in both sculpture and painting by Virginia Coventry, Hilarie Mais and Paul Selwood. These three contemporary artists have been practising and refining their work over forty years or more. Each artist thinks about space as an active arena capable of conveying the multiple vibrations of optics and the pull of gravity. Featured alongside their works are significant abstract paintings by Ralph Balson, a key progenitor of abstraction in Sydney in the 1940s and 1950s.

Ralph Balson, Construction Painting Orange 1948, oil on composition board, 61.5 x 50.5cm. Gift of Patrick White 1980, Wollongong Art Gallery Collection. Reproduced by permission of the Estate of Ralph Balson.

In 2020 Virginia Coventry’s investigations into the densities of colour illusion and spatial perspectives in painting led to a series of expansive pigmented paintings on shaped plywood panels that imperceptibly edge into the realms of three-dimensional form. Paul Selwood’s new works are a subtle divergence from his architectural inspired perspective projections made from organic pigments and steel that hang on the wall. These new geometric configurations play with colour tone harmonies that unfold and expand in the viewer’s vision as we walk around them. Hilarie Mais is recognized for her lattice works often hand-painted with a shimmering patination of colour. Her painterly constructions are based on formal abstract elements – often geometric units, circles, squares and the grid, yet her structures show a progression or sequencing pattern that alludes to an underlying organic basis in nature’s geometry.

This exhibition seeks to understand contemporary art as the prism through which we can look to the past, specifically to the legacy of Ralph Balson and Grace Crowley, the key progenitors of abstraction in the 40s and 50s. Significant paintings by Ralph Balson first exhibited in Sydney in the 1940s were in advance of his time and looked to the future. He developed the abstracts on view in this exhibition alongside that of his painting colleague Grace Crowley. She was both his influential teacher and a sublime painter of abstractions herself, nearly all of which are housed in public collections.

All three contemporary artists speak eloquently of the early modernist innovations and the way they resonate with their own artistic practices.

View exhibition catalogue

View installation photographs

Exhibition dates: 23 March – 1 May, 2022
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12-5pm. Free admission.

Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 April.
Drop in anytime between 1-3pm
An artmaking experience designed to be shared and enjoyed by children 3 – 7 years and their carers

Using our exhibition Colour is a kind of bliss as the muse, create your own colourful, patterned paper weavings and modernist-inspired collages.  The activity will be guided by Delmar Gallery assistant, Christine Smalley.

No bookings are necessary. All materials are supplied.

Please note: kids must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
Further information:

Virginia Coventry, Vertical Green 2018, acrylic on plywood, 60 x 40cm. Reproduced by permission of the artist.

  • 15 March 2022