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The Process of Balliet

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The Process of Balliet | The Art of Balliet: A Theatre in Chiaroscuro
An Introduction to the Artist in Lieu of his Solo Exhibition: The Art of Balliet
Artist’s reception 5-7pm, Friday, September 6th, 2013, Sordoni Art Gallery, Wilkes University

 



The Process of Balliet

By Carmen Latona
Collector and Educator

The Portrait

The Portrait
charcoal on paper
private collection

In the solo exhibition The Art of Balliet, artist’s reception 5-7pm, Friday, September 6th, at the Sordoni Art Gallery, Wilkes University, the public is faced with the work of an artist who is not struggling to find a voice, striving to find commercial success, or adjusting to collector and public demands. Instead, The Art of Balliet is a rare experience of a true artistic process that transcends gimmick, contrivance, and time—nearly forty compositions in charcoal, graphite, and oil, distilling nuances between the tragedy and majesty of the human form and face. Balliet is the deceptive raconteur of both the integral emotion of daily life and the symbolism of desire, loneliness, the continuum of pain, and hope through perseverance.

Except to examine the tracks of his development, Balliet doesn’t question his past work, nor does he speculate on new directions and ideas intended to shock audiences. He states, “Most questions related to an artist’s direction, importance, overall meanings, and philosophies are better answered by anyone but the artist.” Balliet describes his working state as a peaceful, slow venture beginning with a general idea that leads him to surrender. “It’s like learning as you go, but somehow not really paying too much attention—when I remove anxiety and expectation, I begin to see my ideas and compositions unfold.”

Midas Night

Midas Night
charcoal on paper
private collection

Even though Balliet avoids art-speak and psychology, his reluctant self-examination betrays an artistic genius impossible to describe fully in interviews and written words, but inexhaustibly revealed with each viewing of his work: “Subconscious? I don’t know about that. I don’t concentrate exactly on what I’m working on in order to see it clearer. I think about anything but “art”—music, my dogs—over-thinking, analysis while at the easel—most thinking really isn’t art.”

After studying and drawing for nearly two decades, he relies on the discipline, skills, and knowledge he’s acquired to help free what he says works best without his meddling. “It knows what to do,” he said, “I just don’t interfere with it.”
Despite garnering international recognition for his enduring compositions and nearly flawless technical execution, Balliet has, up to this point, rejected a traditional path of working with a steady gallery. He’s not obsessed with rendering lifeless airbrush effects, but instead strives to infuse his pieces with a complexity of emotion that evokes both subtle and dramatic narratives, leaving audiences with possibilities and his subjects with words on their lips.

Turns to Me

 

The Portrait
charcoal on graphite paper
private collection

Whether writing music or screenplays, drawing or painting, creating is a daily part of his life, and he doesn’t want the market-side of art to be a constant appendage, ever-increasing not only the scarcity of his work, but the rarity of his character—an artist who actually creates almost solely out of his need to create .

At age thirty, Balliet views his solo exhibition as a mini-retrospective, some pieces he hasn’t seen in years from collections across the United States, bringing his oeuvre back, for a few short weeks, to his home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. “It’s strange,” he said, “when you realize that people live with your work for years, relate to it, let alone pay for it. Sometimes I forget that aspect. This show offers me the opportunity to assess one goal I do have, to build a body of work that in the long run I’m proud of.”

The Art of Balliet opens August 27th at the Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University and will remain on view through October 20th, 2013. An artist’s reception will be held Friday, September 6th, 5-7 pm.
 

 


 

The Art of Balliet: A Theatre in Chiaroscuro

By Carmen Latona
Collector and Educator

Waiting for Dawn

Waiting for Dawn
charcoal on paper
private collection

Balliet’s solo exhibition The Art of Balliet is an unsettled meditation in tenebrism, tempting onlookers to experience aloneness as both sliding toward despair and buoyed in solitude. Among his vanitases, ancient relics, still-lives, and array of portraits with expressions incapable of casual chatter, a few half-smiles and gazes tease the audience toward a solemn narrative, an epic or perhaps tragedy.

Each of his two-to-three signature charcoals he completes each year, along with graphite work, both softly sketched and more tightly rendered, are stripped of all pretense. As if emerging with the essentials of the centuries, Balliet meticulously adds to art’s contemporary, corporeal shrines.

He judges no medium as a stepping stone toward another medium, instead he chooses black and white—charcoal, graphite, and chalk—the theater of chiaroscuro.

A Moment of Clarity

A Moment of Clarity
charcoal on graphite paper
private collection

Like Cezanne, toward the end of his life, who painted Mont-Sainte-Victoire again and again without repeating himself, Balliet breaks down the human head, face, and form, again and again, clawing to reach the elusive and indispensible. He surpasses personal motive by holding subjects in a flawless aspic, apprehending what exceeds their individual tales—fear, isolation, the impending, the partial digestion of lingering thought and emotion.

At once, he gives the impression of reacting against and embodying the requisites of past masters and his contemporaries. While rendering well beyond photorealism, Balliet’s intention is not, however, to outdo technology, to better the camera, but instead to return to when people relied on vision, images flooding the mind unaided, unfiltered by artificial lenses—images turning to memory, memory to symbolism.

Like Balliet himself, his art bypasses the esoteric and contrived. His finished drawings insinuate there are no parts to his process, simply a cohesive vehicle, transportation to a place of delicate, antithetical possibilities—an enchantment after his audience moves on, edging images into memory and then meaning.

The Art of Balliet walks people beyond initial questions: why does he often isolate the human head? or remove the human form from its surroundings? Why are there few models and seemingly so much repetition?

The Art of Balliet is introspection so powerful in its gestation that easy answers aren’t necessary. In his prime emblems, the human face and figure, Balliet somehow draws opaque passages from people to people and people to objects, however tenuous the connections.

 

Turn to Stone The Unholy The Apparition
     

Turn to Stone
charcoal on paper
private collection

The Unholy
charcoal on paper
private collection

The Apparition
charcoal on paper
private collection

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