Cat in Fishtank, 2000

Gelatin silver print.

40 x 40 cm

Signed on the verso.

Edition 4 of 10.

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Desktop roger ballen


Born in: North America

Born in New York City in 1950, Roger Ballen has lived and worked in Johannesburg, South Africa for almost 30 years.  From 1982 to 2016 he produced many series of works which evolved from photo-journalism to a unique artistic vision. Ballen’s work has been shown in important institutions throughout the world and is represented in many museum collections such as Biblioteque Nationale, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Tate Modern, London, UK; Museum Folkswang, Essen, Germany and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.

In the series Platteland: Images from Rural South Africa (1994) Ballen focused on the inhabitants of small rural towns and approached his subjects with a combination of empathy and with the unflinching eye of a photojournalist. Platteland vividly brought to life the precarious existence of the people who inhabit the unseen countryside.

Texture, composition and an assortment of both objects and animals increasingly have become part of the frame. In subsequent books Outland (2001) and Shadow Chamber (2005) seemingly incompatible objects coexist comfortably with sense of authenticity. To the uninitiated the assortment of objects may seem arbitrary but upon closer inspection one can discern Ballen's ability to bring out the interrelationship between the different objects, the people, their forms and arrangement as well as their metaphysical and emotive qualities.

The series of works from Boarding House (2009) are almost exclusively painterly and sculptural. The human and animal subjects have all but disappeared and function more like stage props or sculptural elements within the composition.

The series of works titled Asylum of the Birds (2014) approximates a point between surrealism and Art Brut. While these movements originated from painting, Ballen’s images are photographs, and as a result he has to work within the confines of his subjects’ living spaces.

September 2016 saw the release of The Theatre of the Apparitions. In a departure from his existing oeuvre, intricately layered images occupy a space between painting, drawing and photography linking image-making and theatrical performance.

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