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Daniel Balabán: The Essence of Personal Identity




The solo exhibition and publication of the same name by Daniel Balabán (* 1957), who asks existential questions in his works, examines himself and touches on faith. He asks if it makes sense to be a painter, why he is here and if he is in whom or whom to believe. And is the existence of Christ important at all in order for a person to believe what he really wants?

What remains crucial, however, is that it is within the contradiction between the philosophical-existential poles that the content of Balabán’s paintings oscillates, or rather, from what has been said above, emerges. Faith, specifically the Christian tradition, experiences a genesis in Balabán’s paintings. The beginnings of his concentrated output since the latter half of the 1980s focus around a reduced form, which interprets which over the following ten years shifts to a position of sensitive and thoughtful irony.
The figure comes to the forefront of his interest. He abandons the implied conceptuatone of painting. The figure becomes alive and material. Suddenly it is present by virtue of its own physical lived experience. In a certain sense one could say that the basis of the action takes place around figures. This is especially clear in the paintings Venuše a Mars (Venus and Mars, 1999), Zdeněk sestupující ze schodů (Zdeněk Descending the Stairs, 1999) and Únava (Fatigue, 2000). However, the essence remains. Balabán experiences painting intensely. With a great deal of delicacy and balance he patiently saves gestures. He sensitively installs the action in a certain way. During this period an analysis of juxtaposition begins to play a crucial role in his work. In the case of many artists we encounter situations (realities) that are clearly defined semantically.

An important feature during the artist’s next decade is that he does not forget to be humble and to possess insight. Gradually the humour, highly sophisticated, but often difficult, disappears. The overview predominates. It is as though with increasing age and an awareness of everything that the phenomenon of the definitive brings with it, a degree of reconciliation and understanding now prevails in his work. This overview is quite possibly the most valuable state of consciousness we are able to acquire. Over the last five years, Balabán exudes insight and humility to the benefit of the painting. He continues to deal with topics that are close to him. Above all he deals with the theme of faith and reactions to powerful current events. An ironic image of recent years is in many ways his Tereza a drak (Teresa and the Dragon, 2018). This is a large painting with clear contours, gestural, yet still a painterly identifiable and clearly defined type. It is basically a sacred scene of a “new species”. It is the duality between the dragon and Teresa, in which each is partly the other. It is a synthesis of terror

In addition to reproductions, the book contains an interview between curator Jan Kudrna and Daniel Balabán.

Curator: Petr Vaňous
Texts: Petr Vaňous
Graphic design:Katarína Jamrišková
Production: Blanka Čermáková, Veronika Čechmánková
Photos: Roman Polášek, Ondřej Polák, Martin Polák
Translation: Phil Jones
Text proofs:Tereza Hubáčková
Tisk / Print: Tiskárna Helbich, a.s.
Print run: 350 ks