Mirosław Bałka is one of the most significant Polish artists who emerged after the Cold War.
Bałka was born in 1958 and grew up in Otwock, a small town a few kilometres outside Warsaw. He is of a generation deeply influenced by the complexity of the nineteenth century and, particularly, by the effects of the Second World War. His work draws on personal memories of, and references to, the last century’s history of Poland and town of Otwock, where he lives now. Albeit maintaining a metaphoric and narrative approach, after initially focusing his attention on a realistic representation of the human body, he has been settling into a minimalist approach over the years.
Bałka’s current work includes videos, installations, sculptures and drawings often made of building materials, sometimes found everyday objects or poor materials such as iron, soap, salt, concrete or pieces of wood. Such residues of everyday life are sometimes combined with the use of light, heat and different temperature, sound and video projections. The human figure is absent, but the body and, by extension, the repeatedly-evoked presence and experience of the subject, remain central, while physical measurements (height, arm length, etc.) are often used as a title for the artist’s works.
The spare and austere appearance as well as the intense evocative quality of Bałka’s works make them stand beyond any historical framework and context of origin, gain a broadly human communication potential and convey, through the themes of the body and memory and their relationship with space and architecture, the sense of a troubled history, whose indelible traces unavoidably have a profound impact on the individual.
- 11 March 2020