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From the article by Daniel Gauss for Wall Street International:

Balas definitely paints buff, naked guys, but not necessarily for the sake of painting buff, naked guys. Even when the sexuality of a painting seems raw and in your face, it looks as if Balas might be aiming for something else. In his painting First Draft #1707, Balas toys with our desire for visual titillation. Why is the football coyly covering the guy’s genitals? What’s going on with the arrow connecting the guy with the window? Well, Balas enjoys using text to add dimensions to the visual elements of his work and, reading his text, we read a story of how someone used to ride his bike past this guy’s window when he was younger. The guy would often be in the window, naked, but with the football hiding his genitals. As the days went by, he apparently became more comfortable and he began flipping the football up in the air and catching it.

The image is a first attempt (a first draft) to convey a wry, ribald story, but results in irresolvable ambiguity. Balas points to the fact that we come to galleries, often, to impute our own stories onto visual images and often walk away with nothing. The text resolves any ambiguity and reveals a tale of risky, surreptitious, non-verbal communication and connection. Indeed, Balas creates a type of allegory for art here as finding a way to make the ambiguous understood and universal is certainly one goal. Also, to a great extent, Balas, as a gay male artist who does not shy away from gay male themes, is flipping a football up in the air every time he has a gallery show, forced to wonder whether people are going to be cool with his art or run away in total indignation. Most of us have probably not engaged in this type of exhibitionism, but figuratively we all know what it is like to be conflicted about this type of football flipping moment. Many of us have gotten to the naked with the football moment, but never flipped it. Unlike other folks who use text in art, Balas’s text is often personal and witty, but he strives to make common or universal connections among a general audience. Whether gay or straight, we all have refrained from or taken opportunities to flip the football.

View the full article

Browse the exhibition “Checkered Passed” at ClampArt
Browse all of Jack Balas’s work at ClampArt

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