In his soap works, Mirosław Bałka brings together the sensory familiarity of his materials within the formal syntax of his minimal sculpture. The painstakingly assembled column of soap abstracts and...
In his soap works, Mirosław Bałka brings together the sensory familiarity of his materials within the formal syntax of his minimal sculpture. The painstakingly assembled column of soap abstracts and sanctifies its individual parts, whilst also standing as a testament to the daily rituals that unite us all. At just under 3m tall, the height of the work is intended to reflect the limits of the human body (it is taller than the artist can reach) yet the soap-bars themselves are shaped by a profoundly levelling and corporeal human action; as the artist observes, we are washed as soon as we are born and washed after we die. In this way, Bałka's modest materials, selected for their resonance to his own childhood in Poland and Catholic upbringing, are transformed into conceptually loaded symbols of human existence.
Mirosław Bałka’s work is characterised by a bare and elegiac quality. The final product emerges from the artist’s focus on the precise, minimalist placement of objects as well as the spaces and pauses between them. Often using his own body and his studio as a template or initial point of reference, Bałka incorporates materials with vivid textural or historical associations in his work such as ash, felt, salt, hair and soap. His subject matter draws on personal and collective memory; his own Catholic upbringing and the recent, fractured history of his native country, Poland. Through his investigation of domestic memory and national tragedy, Bałka addresses how subjective traumas are translated into established histories and vice versa. His materials are simple, everyday objects, but also powerfully resonant of life’s daily rituals as well as the hidden stories embedded within the Nazi occupation of Poland.
Mirosław Bałka was born in 1958 in Warsaw, Poland. He lives and works in Otwock, Poland and Oliva, Spain. His work has been exhibited widely, including solo and group exhibitions across Europe for the last twenty years.
You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in our emails.