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Alwar Balasubramaniam: Uncharted Territories
by Minhazz Majumdar


Seeing is believing. In Alwar Balasubramaniam’s case, seeing and believing are two separate acts, depending on your discernment and perception. His prints, paintings, and sculptures, with their constant plays on the visible and invisible, illusion and certainty, challenge notions of the real and the unreal. Walk into a Balasubramaniam exhibition and you will be confronted by a surreal world where walls are pulled like fabric by disembodied hands, where a figure of the artist sits with his head buried deep in the wall, where angels emerge as if by magic from blocks of stone and sculptures dissolve into nothingness.
A printmaker, painter, and sculptor, Balasubramaniam refuses to be slotted into any one category, stating flatly, “ You are whatever you are.” He would rather be known as “a person who creates art.” Born in 1971 in Chennai, Balasubramaniam is now based in Bangalore. The recipient of several international and national awards, he has participated in solo and group shows across the globe. After receiving a BFA from the Government College of Arts, Chennai, in 1995, he focused on printmaking, taking special courses at EPW Edinburgh (1997– 98) and the Universität für angewandte Kunst, Vienna (1998–99). In his prints and paintings, Balasubramaniam has experimented with a variety of innovative materials and techniques, including silk-screen printing over holograms. In 2000, attracted by multi-dimensionality, he began moving toward sculptural installations. His engagement with the process of creating three-dimensional work is best embodied in one of his early installations, When I made a pond it became a mountain (2000): in the course of creating a depression, he built a corresponding mountain of excavated material.

Emerging Angels, 2004.
Evaporating compound, acrylic, and fiberglass, 12 x 15 x 18 in. each.


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