press release

The Galería Juana de Aizpuru is pleased to present an exhibition with new works by the Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. Balka is known for his careful but resounding installations which often relate to his own body and also to a collective sense of corporality felt intensely through its manifest absence. Wax, steel, plaster and wood are some of the materials the artist uses in either found and altered objects or simple constructions, which refer to everyday domestic rituals as well as personal and collective memories, imbued with a consciousness of mortality.

Balka describes his installations in terms of a ‘phrase’, each sculpture is a word that, through the collaboration and configuration with the rest of the installation, creates new and unexpected meanings. Most of Balka’s work is allusive and suggests a great variety of meanings that, in some cases, is the sign of a very particular narrative that can be ascribed to its shape and surface. Balka accumulates stories of his life, mixing his own history with real and abstract ideas. He often uses the human body’s proportions, specifically his, to scale his work, placing his sculptures in a specific way inside the space, as if the emotional engagement is manifested through felt, spatial dimension. (Occasionally the titles of his works are simply the dimensions of the sculptures).

Balka describes his work as a liberation of ‘energy’ contained in simple materials, in a way that a considered cut or mark can be the transformation or modification of the object, therefore of its meaning. The materials Balka uses are often at first glance inert, dense and weighty, presented in their virtually unaltered state; the forms often covert and pathetic. His use of materials can be also extremely intimate and romantic. In works such as ‘Soap corridor’ (installed at the 1993 Venice Biennial), the ritual of washing evoked as well as the material trace of a physical human existence.

In this exhibition the artist presents a video in the large room of the gallery, obtained from negatives of photographs of the moon, which, along with a bench that can rotate on its axis, creates a video installation. In Balka’s hands the materials transform into a new idea or expression, like in this piece full mystical romanticism. In this same room there is another piece where a steel container, with holes simulating wounds unhealed, receives a constant splash of red wine (red blood). The last piece of this room is formed by the remains of a container, for the first time not rejected for being painted, where he recreated an intimate and protective space, as a bunker, where to feel safe from the external aggressions and glances. In order to have access to the internal vision of this space, Balka forces us to pass through a narrow hall that he left between the piece and the wall. It’s easy to see the back, the outside of the piece but its privacy is hidden from our vision. In the next room there are three sculptures more, one of them made of a dog strap, which height is of a dog’s neck, in normal size. The presence of the dog is pronounced through its absence, the friend isn’t there but there is the object that reminds us of his presence. In the same room there is sculpture hanging from the ceiling with a rotating roof made of steel, which gives us a sensation of security and protection, not a physical one but full of energy. The protective roof resembles the protective wings of the Holy Spirit descending on the heads in Pentecost. Finally, in one corner of the room another sculpture has been placed: is a guard-rope (similar to those used in museums to keep people from touching the paintings) covered with human hair; in this case the rope is in front of an empty wall, provoking a sensation of uneasiness and tragedy.


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Miroslaw Balka "Su seguro servidor"