miroslaw balka

nehtym

september 22 – november 12, 2022

via a. stradella 7

Where are the borders of trust? You wouldn’t touch a painting with your fingers, but sculpture makes you want to touch it, to knock on it to understand what it is made of. The presence of the body, the role of physicality — it’s a different context, in which there are still perspectives for sculpture no longer figurative but dedicated to a different figure — the figure of the viewer.

by miroslaw balka

Galleria Raffaella Cortese presents nehtyM, the gallery’s fifth solo show by Miroslaw Balka (Warsaw, 1958). The artist, whose significant retrospective CROSSOVER/S, curated by Vicente Todolí, was shown at Pirelli HangarBicocca in 2017, returns to Milan with an exhibition project featuring new works in the via Stradella 7 gallery space.

Introduced by the word-play of the title nehtyM, mirrored version of the German word “Mythen” (in English, Myth), which underlines the artist’s voyage into the mythical concept, the exhibition will showcase new bodies of work, drawings and sculptures, across the three macro-areas of Desire, Gravity and Togetherness. The journey continues Balka’s research within the delicate relationship between art and life, ever present in Balka’s work since the 80s, interweaving personal experiences with images from collective memory.

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Galleria Raffaella Cortese presents nehtyM, the gallery’s fifth solo show by Miroslaw Balka (Warsaw, 1958). The artist, whose significant retrospective CROSSOVER/S, curated by Vicente Todolí, was shown at Pirelli HangarBicocca in 2017, returns to Milan with an exhibition project featuring new works in the via Stradella 7 gallery space.

Introduced by the word-play of the title nehtyM, mirrored version of the German word “Mythen” (in English, Myth), which underlines the artist’s voyage into the mythical concept, the exhibition will showcase new bodies of work, drawings and sculptures, across the three macro-areas of Desire, Gravity and Togetherness. The journey continues Balka’s research within the delicate relationship between art and life, ever present in Balka’s work since the 80s, interweaving personal experiences with images from collective memory.

While diving into the exhibition, the viewer approaches the first area of Desire, featured by three large drawings that represent Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty and Niobe, Tantalus’ daughter who was punished for her hubris in maternal pride for her many children. These figures became the first subject of desire during Miroslaw’s childhood, when he was looking at black and white mythology books at the age of twelve. 

The show continues unveiling the second zone of Gravity, characterized by a concrete sculpture titled 84 kg that powers its own presence in the space with different shapes of concrete-cast flower pots. A multilayered work that was developed through different forms and intensities even if the only information we’ve been given here is the weight. The visible becomes invisible and vice versa, the measurement of the sculpture’s title alludes to the totality of the final object, underlining its heavy presence in the space and at the same time its absence in an imaginary eternal heaven.

Balka leads us by activating a series of shifts and passages to the last area of the show, Togetherness, represented by 273 x 23 x 23 / NowHereWe, a sculpture composed of various bells, all of which are sourced from different cultures and religious iconography. Retrieving found objects, repeatedly interwoven in itself, but always changing in its history and interpretation, the artist suggests different connotations, infusing each material used with a new meaning by their removal of their original context and drawing our attention to the formal language, the relationship with the space and whispering a new message free of any explicit interpretation.

Miroslaw Balka ends the journey with a fragment from his private sphere represented by the work Heaven – Jerzy, a golden foil paper that he used to wrap the last Christmas present for his father, bearing witness to an intimate time long gone. It’s a new narration of a space suspended between the time lost and the time evoked through memory, in which Balka invites us to linger on the myth of a family home, the myth of childhood and the collective myth of the human condition.

“Where are the borders of trust? You wouldn’t touch a painting with your fingers, but sculpture makes you want to touch it, to knock on it to understand what it is made of. The presence of the body, the role of physicality — it’s a different context, in which there are still perspectives for sculpture no longer figurative but dedicated to a different figure — the figure of the viewer.”
M.B. 2015

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