Jack Balas : Yes/No (The Woods)
May 23 – Jul 12, 2014
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present its tenth solo exhibition by Colorado artist Jack Balas. Known for his fluidly masterful painting technique, wry humor, text and the youthful figures that often inhabit his works, Balas’ current exhibition incorporates symbolic aspects of Nature. Landscape imagery or fragments of natural form are presented as an intimate kind of puzzle by the artist, with his characteristic free-handed and expressionist gestural mark. His use of the figure – deemed “the everyman” by the artist – incorporated with mountain-scape, forest, or deer – are expressed with a collagist approach and reach beyond the individual elements to imply a narrative. The artist states, “I think of landscape painting as map or diary; an arena linking the visual and verbal, conceptual and material, fact and fiction, abstraction and representation all the while engaged with the viewer to build bridges between disparate ideas.” What appears to be randomly positioned in Balas’ work such as text or numbers, provide a formal structure along with witty or provocative insights into his conceptual approach and all are furthered by the artist’s beautiful handling of paint.
Balas’ playful yet complex approach is evident with the exhibition work, which is central to the show, entitled Yes/No (The Woods). The mixed media painting features a central square of bare, well-grained plywood that figuratively serves as a sturdy tree trunk. A painted branch intended to look like plywood sprouts to the right over the word “NO” which stands at the edge of a loosely painted woods. Likewise, the word “YES” completes the left side of the triptych as it mirrors the same hazily-lit forest. As is usual for the artist, offering wordplay to the viewer prompts a process of deciphering and is intended to evolve in a myriad of ways. All of Balas’ work is purposefully and generously subjective – each element a puzzle piece made compelling and mysterious. The painting Long Been Suspected gives view to a contained, yet rugged mountain range revealed through a lifted tent flap on unprimed canvas. And on it the text states, “THAT WHICH HAD LONG BEEN SUSPECTED, But has since been ascertained” gives pause to consider what universe Balas has revealed – or if in the end, it is both the artist and the viewer who tell a tale that holds countless endings.
Jack Balas holds a BFA and an MFA from Northern Illinois University. His work has been exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Museum of the Southwest and Tucson Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, among others. His work is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tucson Museum of Art, Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and 21c Museum, Louisville, Kentucky and numerous private and private collections along with being an National Endowment for the Arts painting fellow.