Kate Ballis’ candy-coloured dreamscapes hit the sweet spot in Los Angeles
Kate Ballis’ otherworldly infrared photographs of Palm Springs first caught our eye last autumn when we met the artist in the desert resort city, where she was working on the next instalment of her series Infra Realism. The Melbourne-based photographer has turned her lens on southern California for the past couple of years, conjuring phantasmagorical visions of modernist architecture, desert landscapes, swimming pools, and vintage cars.
Now, these bewitching images are having a homecoming of sorts, as Ballis makes her US debut with her first solo exhibition, ‘Hypercolour Fantasy: Infra Realism’, at Los Angeles gallery Garis & Hahn. Ballis credits Richard Mosse’s groundbreaking show at the 2013 Venice Biennale among her inspirations, but there’s no doubt she’s cast her own spell over infrared photography as her project has developed.
Installation view of ‘Hypercolour Fantasy: Infra Realism’ at Garis & Hahn, Los Angeles
Shot with a specially converted full-spectrum mirrorless Sony camera using various infrared filters, the artist reimagines iconic Palm Springs locations and mid-century houses – the Ace Hotel & Swim Club and Liberace’s former home included – as a dreamlike fantasy world. Succulents and palm trees are depicted in vibrant hues of blue, skies are a deep magenta, and swimming pools a ferocious blood-red.
Beyond Palm Springs, Infra Realism has taken Ballis to Arizona’s Sedona desert, Joshua Tree, and Los Angeles – the latter’s John Lautner-designed Sheats Goldstein Residence takes on a particularly ominous quality in infrared. Deserts, too, lend themselves well to the artist’s candy-coloured vision. ‘I was hesitant to take my infrared camera [to Sedona desert],’ explains Ballis. ‘For some reason I had imagined it to be an arid desert with no foliage, but was surprised to see it was a thriving valley full of twisted juniper trees, oaks and pines.’
Sheats Goldstein, 2017, by Kate Ballis
Ballis has exhibited at Sydney’s Black Eye Gallery and at art fairs across Europe. The artist will release a book for her Infra Realism series with Australian publisher Manuscript in November. Watch this space. §