"I am a part and a tiny fraction of nature defined by my ego. I would like to keep expanding my circle by being open towards everything around me and trying to find the hidden meaning."
Over the decades Alwar Balasubramaniam has had a sustained and ever-deepening relationship with the natural world—not only its landscapes or physical elements, but the forces that surround us. Working across a range of media and materials, Balasubramaniam, known also as Bala, focuses these life-giving forces in ways that make them visible and tangible—bringing the geological and elemental to human-scale. Bala’s bodily knowing of nature has been critical to his work over time—work which seeks continuously to investigate the possibilities of the senses to capture and engage with that which extends beyond them. With searching, always-curious attention, Bala probes our perception, pushing past normal habits of seeing, feeling, and relating – making visible what we otherwise overlook in the course of our daily living.
Balasubramaniam’s work revolves around the notions of transition and transformation...His sculpture fuses intellectual, emotional and spiritual concerns.
Vesela Sretenovic, The Phillips Collection
From intimate and barely perceptible to room-size installations—Bala harnesses the potentiality of each material to work in new and unexpected ways. Bala playfully challenges viewers to question and ultimately expand the limits of their perception. In every case, his interest remains steady: to open our eyes and minds, quite literally, to the world around us.
Balasubramaniam has long investigated thresholds between presence and absence and the physical and the spiritual, particularly in relationship to himself.
Shanay Jhaveri, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bala’s hand is felt as much as seen, present in the ways it moves like the wind through the matter around it or gently guiding the water as it flows through his landscape.
Kasturba Lalbhai Museum
Bala’s artworks … pay a homage to a life lived in close proximity to nature...There is something simple but magical in the organic world he re-creates and the sense of harmony he aspires to.
Sangita Jindal, Art India
By foregrounding the ease with which matter can be converted into states of immateriality, Balasubramaniam reveals to us how flesh might be sublimated into spirit.
Across the three decades of his career, Bala has become known for his continuous investigation of the material and natural world, along with our capacity to explore, identify and comprehend it. Keenly interested in ways of accessing those parts of life too small, too vast, or simply too everyday to be readily seen, his works challenge viewers to expand their ways of seeing and refocus their habits of attention.
Bala’s works have been featured in exhibitions and collections worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), New York; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi, India; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; École des Beaux Arts, Paris, France; Lalbhai Museum, Ahmedabad, India; Essl Museum, Austria; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia, 1st Singapore Biennale; and 18th Sydney Biennale. In 2001 he was given the Joan Miro foundation award accompanied by a solo exhibition. Bala has been a guest lecturer at the Art Department of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and a featured speaker at TED.
Alwar Balasubramaniam (Bala) was born in 1971 in Tamil Nadu, India. He received a BFA from the Government College of Arts, Chennai, India, in 1995 after which he continued his studies in Edinburgh and Vienna. In 1998 he was artist in residence at The MacDowell Colony in NH after which he returned to Bangalore, where he lived and practiced till 2015. Subsequently Bala moved to the countryside near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu where he created his home and studio and continues to live and work.