In his debut solo exhibition, Vinod Balak draws on what he describes as the “naive schema and European classical aesthetic norms” as the hallmark of the “Kerala school of art”. His interjection at the site of western and Indian artistic convention opens up a critical debate of the location of the artist. His own position is to move beyond the Indian artists’ desire for accommodation, or assimilation within western mainstream art practices into a critique of systems, both Indian and global.
In representing the female as a sow, the most graphic representation and one that invites mockery and repugnance, is as the Sleeping Venus (2009): a direct quotation of Giorgione's Venus. The sow stretches out asleep on the chaise lounge, her heightened flesh tones accentuated into an industrial pink, the landscape behind her adapting to accommodate the red tile buildings of Kerala.
Balak chooses to quote well-known western masterpieces as well as Indian iconography and artistic convention and puts them on the same register of subversiveness. He assumes the stance located within a self consciously articulated ‘provincial modernism’. The viewer is challenged and compelled to recognize the presence of newer art histories, and artistic positions in the making.
Born 1982 in Kerala, Vinod Balak attained a BFA in Painting from the Government College of Fine Arts, Thrissur, and an MFA in Painting from the Sarojini Naidu School of Fine Arts, University of Hyderabad. Balak’s debut solo exhibition was held at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai in 2010. His works have been presented in Flying, Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2012); New Selections: South Asia, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York (2012); and Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern and Contemporary Art from India, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA (2011) among other exhibitions. Vinod Balak lives and works in New Delhi.