Lubomirov/Angus-Hughes Gallery London
4th June-26th June
Private view 3rd June 6-9pm
‘The ordinary practitioners of the city live “down below,” below the thresholds at which visibility begins. They walk an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban “text” they write without being able to read it. These practitioners make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other’s arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility.’
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life
With this new body of work, Mike Ballard explores the visual language of the city. The exhibition is an exploration of the gestures and codes that are overlooked by the everyday pedestrian. Inspired by the abstract compositions found in the urban environment, and the territorial markers that divide public and private space, he is fascinated by the visual noise that the City’s infrastructure presents.
His research takes the form of citywide wanderings, ‘finding’ his source material in building site hoardings and painted pavement markings. They form a pattern of language that is driven by gentrification and digital progression, yet also, display one of exclusion and escape. The work becomes a method to reinterpret the secret language that we walk over and past on our hurried passage through the city. Ballard slows our gaze and redirects it towards the moments of human interaction on impenetrable surfaces.
His latest series of ‘Anti-Landscape’ paintings are based on the urban hieroglyphics of utility companies. The painted marks left by road workers, to indicate the location of underground networks, forms a code between the different utilities, water, electricity, gas, and telecommunications. These subterranean networks provide the infrastructure that drives and maintains modern life. The artist views each paving slab as a Ready-made composition of dirt, paint, pollution and chewing gum. These surface marks are represented by Ballard using a mix of traditional oil paints and Line-Marker spray paints. Conflating high and low culture, urban codes are translated into the language of minimal abstract painting.
The sculptural elements in the exhibition are created from Ballard’s collection of hoardings that are cut down and made into geometric collaged structures. The new forms created provide an alternative context for their painterly qualities to be considered by transforming the language of regeneration and the aesthetics of ownership. The resulting installation invites the viewer to examine and rethink the dialogue between medium and context and their own relationship to the city.
Published by Benjamin Murphy