Bala’s interest in the natural world has sustained his artistic practice for decades. His bodily knowing of nature has been critical to Bala’s work over the course of his career—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. Working across media—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.
"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."
Alwar Balasubramaniam (Bala) was born in 1971 in Tirunelveli, 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 returned to his native village near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu and embarked on creating his home and studio in the countryside, where he continues to live and work.
Bala's works have been featured in exhibitions worldwide, including 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, New Delhi, India; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; École des Beaux Arts, Paris, France; 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.