Miroslaw Balka’s work is characterised by a bare and elegiac quality, the outcome of the artist’s focus on the precise, minimalist placement of objects as well as the spaces and pauses between them.
Often using his own body and his studio as a template or initial point of reference, Balka incorporates materials with vivid textural or historical associations in his work such as ash, felt, salt, hair and soap. His subject matter draws on personal and collective memory; his own Catholic upbringing and the recent, fractured history of his native country, Poland. Through his investigation of domestic memory and national tragedy, Balka addresses how subjective traumas are translated into established histories and vice versa. His materials are simple, everyday objects, but also powerfully resonant of life’s daily rituals as well as the hidden stories embedded within the Nazi occupation of Poland.
Miroslaw Balka was born in 1958 in Warsaw, Poland. He lives and works in Otwock, Poland and Oliva, Spain. His work has been exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at Castello di Ama, Siena (2019); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2017); Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (2017); British School at Rome (2016); Museum of Art MS1, Lodz, Poland (2015); Foksal Gallery, Warsaw (2014); Freud Museum, London (2014); National Centre For Contemporary Art, Moscow (2013); Akademie Der Kunste, Berlin (2011); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2011); Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2010); Modern Art Oxford, UK (2009); Tate Modern, London (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, Rijeka (2007); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2007); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21, Düsseldorf, Germany (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Strasbourg, France (2004); Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands (2001); Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland (2002); and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuelle Kunst, Ghent, Belgium (2001).
Balka has participated in numerous group exhibitions including Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2022); Centro de Arte Contemporânea de Coimbra, Portugal (2022); Osaka Kansai International Art Festival, Japan (2022); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2022); Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Germany (2021); Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2021); State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg (2021); Boghossian Foundation, Brussels (2021); Wrocław Contemporary Museum, Poland (2021); Centro Botin, Santander (2020); Fondazione Berengo Art Space, Murano, Italy; Muzeum Susch, Engadin, Switzerland (both 2019); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2018); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna (2017); The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2017); Fundacion la Caixa, Barcelona, Spain (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow (2015); Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2014); 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (2010); Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund, Germany (2010); Museum Stzuki, Lodz, Poland (2010); 6th SITE Santa Fe Biennale, New Mexico (2006); 15th Biennale of Sydney (2006); 51st Venice Biennale (2005); 45th Venice Biennale (1993); Documenta 9, Kassel, Germany (1992); and 44th Venice Biennale (1990).