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Mirosław Bałka: Nerve. Construction

ms¹, Więckowskiego 36 (1st floor)
27 November 2015 13 March 2016 

The exhibition „Mirosław Bałka: Nerve. Construction” is the first such an extensive presentation of the artist’s works in Poland. It brings together works created during more than three decades, starting from his early drawings up to contemporary productions created specifically for the historic interiors of the museum. The exhibition shows  mythical figures from the 1980s, works created from found objects and formally disciplined sculptures characteristic of his later oeuvre. They are complemented with a substantial selection of works on paper: drawings, sketches of sculptures, and private notes. Many of these objects will be presented to the public for the first time.

The key selection criterion is the deeply humanistic and existential dimension of Bałka’s art focused around the centrally placed man and the way he experiences the world. Since the 1980s he has been coming back to the subject of the human body, its physical and symbolic presence: physiology, vulnerability, and traces. The works on the exhibition are linked with the reflection on human nature, instincts, passing by and memory. At the same time, we can perceive them as discrete affirmation of day-to-day reality. Artist’s attention focuses on the margins of the most immediate environment and its the most prosaic elements. The way he uses them, sometimes underpinned by subtle sense of humour, reveals the utmost care for details and unusual sensitivity going hand in hand with thrifty use of forms and materials. Many objects presented at the exhibition bear  personal touch. These are mainly smaller-scale sculptures, works making reference to spaces, with which the artist has been emotionally linked (home, gallery, studio) as well as his drawings, traditionally the closest to his original intentions, his body and gestures.

The „nerve” in the title highlights emotions, experiences and senses. It also defines the exhibition as an attempt to convey fundamental information about the practice of the artist. The presentation has been orchestrated around themes that intertwine Bałka’a oeuvre from the very first moments until today. It is an inventory of basic forms, materials and references. By the same token it grasps the moment of passing from figurative sculpture to reduced, abstract forms, reveals the symbolism of their dimensions, proportions, and materials that he used, such as wood, concrete, gypsum and more metaphoric ones: salt, soap, and ash. Selection of works highlights vital motifs from the 20th century literature, classical mythology, religion or history. Linear, chronological narrative is replaced with focusing on selected subjects, such as: body, death, desire, place, and memory. By combining various moments of his creative work, the approach helps expressing its complexity and discipline. It demonstrates consistency and strictness that lie at the foundations of Bałka’s art, independently of the forms that it takes or the diversity of media used by the artist.  

Curator: Kasia Redzisz
Co-curator from Art Museum in Lodz: Maria Morzuch

Coordination: Przemysław Purtak

Mirosław Bałka (born in 1958, Warsaw) sculptor, author of drawings and experimental video. In 1985 he graduated from Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts. Already as a student, along  with Mirosław Filonik and  Marek Kijewski,  he co-founded Świadomość Neue Bieremiennost. Artists worked together until 1989 and their exhibitions often took  ephemeral forms. At that time Bałka also presented his works individually. Major exhibitions of the 1980s with his involvement include: „Co słychać?” [What is up?] (1987) Warsaw, „Polish Realities” Glasgow”(1988),”Sculpture in the Garden” (1988) Warsaw, and also „Middle Europe” in Artist’s Space ,New York and „Dialogue” , Kunst Museum Dusseldorf (1989). Since 1990 Bałka took part in many exhibitions, e.g.,: Documenta in Kassel (1992), Biennale di Venezia (1990, 1993, 2003, 2005, 2013), The Carnegie International in Pittsburgh (1995), Biennale in Sao Paulo (1998), Sydney Biennale (1992, 2006) , Biennale in Santa Fe (2006). Solo exhibitions, e.g.: Haus Lange , Krefeld, Renaissance Society , Chicago (1992), Van Abbe Museum, Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź (1994), Tate Gallery, London (1995), Zachęta, Warsaw (2001), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2007), and Reina Sofía , Madrid (2012).

Invited by the Tate Modern within the framework of the prestigious  „The Unilever Series” in 2009 Bałka produced a monumental sculpture How It Is in the Turbine Hall. He also created sculptures in public spaces, inter alia, the monument to commemorate the victims of  “Estonia” ferry catastrophe in Stockholm (1998) and the piece Auschwitzwieliczka (2009) in Krakow. Videos produced since the 1990s occupy a prominent place in Bałka’s art. He shows them like objects, equips them with spatial quality by showing them on floors or screens made from steel frames filled with salt. In the period 2011-14 his video works were subjects of a retrospective exhibition „Fragment” in the CSW [Centre for Contemporary Art] in Warsaw, Akademie der Kunste , Berlin, Centre for Contemporary Art in Moscow, and in Arnhem Museum.

His works can be found in the collections of, e.g.: Tate Modern, London, MoMA,  New York, MoCA, Los Angeles, MoMA, San Francisco, Hirshhhorn Museum , Washington, The National Museum of Art , Osaka, Israel Museum, Jerusalem , Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Zachęta. National Gallery of Art and Museum of Modern Art , Warsaw, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAK), Krakow, and National Museum, Wrocław.

Bałka received the Mies van der Rohe Stipendium (1992) and holds a membership in the Akademie Der Kunste in Berlin (since 2011). Since 2011 he heads the Studio of Spatial Activities at the Faculty of Media Art of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts.

In 2017 Hangar Bicocca in Milan will host the artist’s retrospective exhibition.



Supporting partner:



ms², Ogrodowa 19
3 December 2015, Thursday, at 18:00 hrs
Artist's Responsibilities. Lecture by Katarzyna Bojarska
read more

ms¹, Więckowskiego 36
23 January 2016, Saturday, at 11:11 hrs (for children over 7 years); at 13:13 hrs (for children over 4 years with parents)
Modulator. Workshop for children led by Barbara Kaczorowska

ms¹, Więckowskiego 36
7 February 2016, Sunday, at 17:00 hrs
Curator’s guided tour by Maria Morzuch

ms², Ogrodowa 19
11 March 2016, Friday, at 18:00 hrs
Mirosław Bałka in conversation with Andrew Nairne, director of Kettle’s Yardin Cambridge

ms¹, Więckowskiego 36
12 March 2016, Saturday, at 11:11 hrs (for children over 7 years); at 13:13 hrs (for children over 4 years with parents)
Modulator. Workshop for children led by Barbara Kaczorowska







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