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Balling, 1961

Joyce Wieland
Canadian, 1930 - 1998
oil on canvas
193.2 x 233.6 cm
Purchased 1968
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15457)

In this Abstract Expressionist painting, Wieland’s use of broadly applied and splashed paint on a soaked untreated canvas symbolizes the sexual act. The circular forms of the composition might further suggest the reproductive cycle or, more generally, the cycle of life. Wieland ventured boldly into the expression of female sexuality in her work, and this theme is undoubtedly revealed here by the title "Balling". Throughout the 1960s Wieland conducted a light-hearted exploration of sexuality, in which genitals often look like something out of a comic book. But what set Wieland apart from her peers was the frankness with which she treated the more intimate aspects of femininity, such as menstruation, and her endless technical experimentation.

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