In Balak's world-view animals masquerade in human domains, bearing the marks and the contradictions of cultural transition. Enacting the roles of their human masters, they inhabit automated bodies, and flesh tones reminiscent of Sivakasi poster colours – flamboyant and unreal.
In this way the artist creates episodic images that invert the normal order, and allows the lesser to commandeer the greater. Here it is important to get a sense of the artist’s intentionality. Speaking from the fringes of small town India, and a redolent Marxism, Balak articulates a post-colonial confidence even as he draws on the dark trenchant humour of Malayam literature and theatre.
His works in themselves bear out description, for such is their intense narrative engagement. However as the principal actors in Balak’s highly defined and formally laid out compositions these are acts of mimesis. The animal forms are enacting a dialogue with what the artist likes to describe as a “fetish” but which could also be read as a quotation, that seeks to reposition the notions of value and beauty in art.
Born 1982 in Kerala, India
BFA (Painting), Government College of Fine Arts, Thrissur, Kerala
MFA (Painting), S.N. School of Fine Arts, Hyderabad Central
Lives and works in New Delhi
Venus Retrograde, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
Nine Painters from Kerala, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
DWELLING’, 10th Anniversary Show (Part II), curated by Ranjit Hoskote, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai