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Alwar Balasubramaniam

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Name  A. Balasubramaniam

Alwar balasubramaniam art of substance and absence

Alwar Balasubramaniam ("Bala") (born 1971) is a sculptor, painter, printmaker, and installation artist, currently based in Bangalore, India. His work, which focuses on the body and its material relationship to the world, has been the subject of international acclaim, and has been featured in museums and exhibitions worldwide.


18th biennale of sydney at mca alwar balasubramaniam pinaree sanpitak install

Life and career

Born in 1971 in Tamil Nadu, India, Balasubramaniam earned a BFA from the Government College of Arts, Chennai, in 1995. Trained as a printmaker, he took special courses at the Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop (EPW) and Universität fär angewandte Kunst Wien, Vienna, during the 1990s, and his early work focused on prints and paintings. Attracted to multi-dimensionality, Balasubramaniam began working increasingly in sculpture and installation beginning in the early 2000s – but he prefers, even with the recognition he has gained as a sculptor, to be known as "a person who creates art." Bala’s works have been exhibited in museums, art festivals, and galleries worldwide, including at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Mori Art Museum, Japan; Essl Museum, Austria; 1st Singapore Biennale; École des Beaux Arts, Paris, France; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia; and The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.


Bala's work, unlike that of many of his contemporaries, largely eschews references to contemporary social or geographic realities – a fact that many critics cite as the reason for his belated international acclaim, especially in comparison with artists whose "Indianness" appears more overtly in their work. Bala's work, by contrast, is centred on the body and its relationship to the material world, focusing especially on the intangible elements – light, air, shadow – that structure physical experience. In a similar way, many of Bala's works deal with Energy – that invisible yet absolutely fundamental animating force of life. While his earlier works often referred to energy in a visually symbolic manner, eventually energy became more of a latent presence in Bala's work – a force connoted rather than denoted, known only by its effects. The dynamic installations of Energy Field (2009) or Link (2009), for example, physically manifest the presence of forms of energy, even while masking their origin – confusing and teasing the viewer and underscoring the myriad non-visible forces at work in the physical world.

Alwar Balasubramaniam wwwchristiescomlotfinderimagesD55946abalasub

Often using his own body as a basis for his sculptures, Bala engages in a profound, but not humourless, investigation into the metaphysics of selfhood. Many of his sculptural series that have included casts from himself, focusing especially on the skin as the literal and metaphorical boundary that separates the inside from the outside, the seen from the hidden, the self from the exterior world. In an early work, Self in progress (2002), for example, a life-sized seated figure cast from his own body, appears rooted within a wall. The figure is caught midway at this transitional threshold, entering from one side of the wall and emerging from another, with a non-visible head apparently stuck inside the wall. The sculpture seems an audacious pronouncement of the will of man, which grants the ability to saturate matter and makes nothing beyond reach or inert. For a passing moment, there seems to exist a connectedness between all things animate and inanimate; the art and the space it inhabits become one. As the artist once remarked, "We usually seek clarity in details while the entire picture may be blurred. To me life is not about clear moments but seeking clarity in life as a whole.”

Selected Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions


Talwar Gallery, Rain in the midnight, New York, NY, US


Talwar Gallery, layers of wind, lines of time, New York, NY, US


Talwar Gallery, New York, NY, US

Talwar Gallery, Nothing From My Hands, New Delhi, India


The Phillips Collection, Sk(in), Washington DC, US


Talwar Gallery, (In)between, New Delhi, India


Talwar Gallery, New York, NY, US

Talwar Gallery, (In)visible, New Delhi, India


Van Every/Smith Galleries, Unfixed Being, Davidson, North Carolina, US


Talwar Gallery, Into Thin Air, New York, NY, US


Fundacio pilar i Joan Miro, Traces, Majoca, Spain

Talwar Gallery, New York, NY, US

The British Council, Chennai, India

Selected Group Exhibitions


The Phillips Collection, Intersections, works from the collection, Washington, DC, US


Seattle Art Museum, City Dwellers, Seattle, Washington, US


Columbia College of Art and Design, WALL, Columbus, OH, US


18th Biennale of Sydney, all our relations, Sydney, Australia

Montclair Art Museum, Look Now, Montclair, New Jersey, US


National Portrait Gallery, Beyond the Self, Canberra, Australia, and travel to

McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, Australia Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Australia

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Time Unfolded, New Delhi, India


The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), On Line, New York City, US

Guggenheim Museum, Contemplating the Void, New York, NY, US


Devi Art Foundation, Poddar Collection, Where in the World, New Delhi, India


Mori Art Museum, Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art, Tokyo, Japan and travel to

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg / Wien, Austria


Singapore Biennale, Belief, Director Fumio Nanjo, Singapore


Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts,Transition and Transformation, Amherst, MA, US

École des Beaux-Arts, Indian Summer, Paris, France

Talwar Gallery, (desi)re, New York, NY, US


8th International Cairo Biennale, Cairo, Egypt

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Finding the Center at the Margins, New Delhi, India

Junge Kunstler sind westfalen, Munster, Germany

Gallery Espace, In Conversation, New Delhi, India

India Habitat Center, Pallet 2001, New Delhi, India

6th International Biennial of Drawing and Graphic Arts, Gyor, Hungary


Aar Paar, Exchange exhibition between India and Pakistan

International Print Triennial, Cracow, Poland

Intergrafia, Katowice, Poland

3rd International Triennial of Graphic Art, Bitola, Macedonia

6th International Biennial of Miniature Art, Yugoslavia

1st Cheju International Prints Art Festival, Korea

5th Triennial Mondiale D'Estampes Petit Format, Chamalieres, France

Concours 3rd Millenaire, Chamalieres, France

4th Muestra Latino Americana International Miniprint, Argentina


12th Norwegian International Print Triennial, Norway

Edge of the Century, New Delhi, India.

5th International Biennial of Drawing and Graphics, Gyor, Hungary

12th International Exhibition of Graphic Art, Frenchen, Germany

KHOJ International Workshop, Modinagar, India

University of Hawaii, Hilo, UH International Invitational exhibition, Hilo, Hawaii, US

2nd International Exlibris Exhibition, Council of Europe, Croatia

Premio International Biella, Italy

10th International Exhibition for Small Graphics, Lodz, Poland

4th British International Miniature Print Exhibition, UK

VI International Art Triennial, Majdanek, Poland


Ist International Print Triennial, Kanagawa, Japan

7th International Triennial of Prints and Drawings, Vaasa, Finland

11th Tallinn Print Triennial, Tallinn, Estonia

Labyrinth, 2nd International Triennial of Graphic Art, Prague, Czech Republic

5th International Biennial of Miniature Art, Yugoslavia

International Culture Exchange Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan

ARKS Gallery, London, UK

Agart World Print Festival, Ljubljana, Slovenia


4th Bharat Bhavan International Print Biennial, Bhopal, India

4th Sapporo International Print Biennial, Sapporo, Japan

International Print Triennial, Kraków, Poland

The 8th International Biennial of Print and Drawing Exhibit, Taipei, Taiwan

40th National Exhibition of Contemporary Art, India

Fifty Years of Art in Independent India, Madras, India

SSA Exhibition at Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, UK

2nd Malaysia International Contemporary Print Exhibition, Malaysia


Egypt International Print Triennial, Giza, Egypt


3rd Sapporo International Print Biennial, Sapporo, Japan

Tokyo International Mini Print Triennial, Tokyo, Japan


Group show 94, at Government Museum, Madras

Second Indian Drawing Biennial, Chandigarh, India


Egypt International Print Triennial, Giza, Egypt


1990–95 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Government College of Arts, Madras, India

1997–98 EPW Edinburgh (Printmaking), UK

1998–99 Universitat fur Angewandte Kunste (Printmaking) Wien, Austria

Publications Available

  • Transition and Transformation. University Gallery, Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts. With essays by Loretta Yarlow and Deepak Talwar, 2005.
  • (In)visible. With an essay by Sharmini Pereira, 2007.
  • (IN)BETWEEN. With an essay by Deepak Talwar, 2009.
  • References

    Alwar Balasubramaniam Wikipedia

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