Fann A Porter gallery is pleased to present Subconscious Reality, the second solo exhibition by Houssam Ballan from 25 March – 20 April 2019.
Subconscious Reality, explores the society and persons in the midst of conflict, and the alternate realities these situations can create. The exhibition features Ballan’s newest paintings, large works on canvas, portraying numerous figures interacting with one another.
Informed by his accomplished technical abilities, Ballan creates works that tell a story, one that seems to carry multiple narratives. Perhaps a painting boasts life and energy, or at the same time holds some form of hope of an escape. The artist’s figures are minimalistic, rounded, and purposefully lacking detail, resembling icons, giving a timeless frame to the works. This timelessness makes Ballan’s works relevant in the past, the present and the future.
Ballan’s focus on human interactions continues to play a big role in his new works. The figures are painted caught in everyday life moments, yet these moments feel both intimate and relatable at the same time. In his painting, Two Dancers, the sense of hope – or the hope of hope – is gently portrayed to the viewer, with his use of reduced detail, colour, and soft lines. Though, seeming to exist in dreamland, his hopeful paintings are strongly relatable and very much rooted in reality.
This realistic portrayal of human emotion and awareness that resides in one’s subconscious is also present in his other works that are less hopeful, and even slightly more serious. The emotion found in the characters’ eyes – through the use of flat colour combined with the sense of continuous movement – creates moving, poetic portraits.
In his older work, the artist painted hyper-realistic characters, however, with his shift to less detailed figures and overall works, he did not lose the connection that is created between the viewer and the figures resulting from a shared understanding of a certain moment, emotion or event. This is done through him painting through the mind’s eye – what one perceives rather than what the eye sees in a hyper realistic work.
The works also touch upon one’s own perception of self, physical perception and the issues we face today with body image. The beautiful figures embody all the notions of self-love and put to shame all the efforts of ‘posing’ and trying hard to fit unrealistic social norms of beauty. This underlying tone, that’s done very gently and meticulously, does not aggressively face these issues, rather proves by doing, subconsciously making the viewer agree with the artist and shed all preconceived notions of beauty that have been drilled into one’s mind for many years.
Ballan creates aesthetically soft, pleasing to the eye works that carry an impression lasting longer than the time spent admiring the work. The characters are relatable, yet intriguing enough to search for the multiple narratives they tell in one scene. The paintings seem to be suspended in time – existing at a specific point, but also throughout the space time continuum. Undoubtedly, Houssam Ballan yet again touches the viewer with his works, and continues to explore themes of representation and the existence within these lines.
About the Artist
Ballan is a tutor and member of the Teacher’s Association at the University of Damascus since 2009. Between 1999 and 2007, he participated in workshops with artist J. Bradley Adams and painter Jose Friexanes, and trained in mural painting with Pierre Palas. Ballan has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions including BBA Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2019); Hafez Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (2019); Atelier Stories, Paris, France (2018); Fann A Porter, Dubai, UAE (2018), Marc Hachem Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon (2014); Arab Cultural Centre (2010, 2007, and 2005); Ayyam Gallery, Damascus, Syria (2006); French Cultural Centre, Damascus, Syria, (2004); among others. His works can be found in numerous private and public collections. Ballan was born in 1983 in Sweida, Syria where he currently lives and works.