Biography

Frank Balve’s visual language is explicit. Its overall tone is dark, its articulation clear, and its effect disturbing. Balve designs his images with paint, he builds them of stone or paper, he stages them for the camera, and he encapsulates them in language. In sitespecific installations – often of museum-scale – he combines his works, creating spaces of experience with which the viewer must engage both physically and mentally with all his/her senses. The program of these theatrically conceived spaces – in the sense of Michael Fried – ranges from current social issues, such as the police state or the role of media, and violent and oppressive scenarios to surreal nightmarish scenes based on the artist’s personal memories. Frank Balve’s works are often inspired by literary works, from Dante to the Marquis de Sade, by mythological and biblical stories, and by masterpieces of classical painting, which he appropriates in a process of uninhibited analysis and translates in his own visual language. The aesthetics of the material is of particular and central importance in the works of Frank Balve, who, in 2009, began his studies at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in the ceramics class of Norbert Prangenberg. For his “Paper Sculptures” the artist developed a procedure of spraying finely chopped pulp – in as many as 100 layers – onto found or built objects. Difficult to categorize, the porous consistency of these surfaces is reminiscent of calcification, ash and fossils; it obscures the original structure and appeals strongly to the visual and tactile sense. The observer’s attention is deliberately directed to the semantics of the material. The same is true of the recurring use of industrially produced tiles, with their specific connotations of coolness, hardness, sterility and cleanliness. These elements experience a shift in emphasis, depending on whether they are dirty, broken or are carefully laid out. The treatment and effect of paint also play a prominent role in the Balve’s “Conceptual Paintings”. Monochrome colors usually serve as the background in his large-format panel paintings. They are covered with multiple layers of abstract splashes and drips, which the artist applies using his hand in a performative act of throwing, thereby orchestrating the canvas through movement. The contrast of the extensive surfaces of house paint and the organic, plastic structure of acrylic paint produces a relief-like impression. Moreover, Balve provokes targeted processes of transformation by mixing paint: over time, some paint peels off and cracks form in the dried lakes of paint that are reminiscent of the crackling in the oil paintings of the Old Masters. Deconstruction is a fundamental principle in Balve’s work. Sounds are created and then distorted beyond recognition, and video images are superimposed in such large numbers that the original content is no longer recognizable or images are slowed down to such an extent that they become almost immobile frozen “video paintings”. Spaces are constructed and then fragmented. Balve’s working process is characterized by a strong performative component and often has aggressive or destructive features, and is marked by a physical force or even violence. Balve’s pictorial reference to classic paintings must also be understood in relation to its production process. Through his intentional throwing of paint and dividing up of the canvas, the initial positive-seeming appropriation of the model also attains features of a violent debate or even of parricide. The artist does not appear in the spontaneous act of painting itself as an expressive genius, but rather as a performer and producer, whose actions follow a specific plan that is reflected in the structure of the works. A central strategy in Frank Balve’s work consists in how showcase situations are created behind fences, peepholes or performances behind glass. The viewer is locked out, relegated to his/her voyeuristic role of spectator or observer and, thus, to him- or herself. Similar to his accessible spaces, which physically oppress through their use of light, sound and images and their eerie atmosphere, here too the viewer – even as an outsider – does not remain aloof but, rather, is trapped in a state of emotional anxiety and intellectual confusion, which lingers far after the period of observation. Despite their formal heterogeneity, Frank Balve’s works follow a coherent aesthetic conception, whose art-historical range spans from Marcel Duchamp’s viewer-related installation Etant donnés to American action painting to Gregor Schneider’s psychophysical space, Totes Haus ur. Although the artist’s paintings, photographs, sculptures, performances and films can be regarded as independent works, they also function as parts of a multi-layered, comprehensive concept. They are linked by numerous recurring formal elements and motifs, which both unite and create a cosmos of symbols in which the generation of meaning is in a constant state of flux: tiled cubicles with showerheads, dilapidated spaces, nudity, accumulations of video monitors, encrusted wheelchairs. Balve uses an allusion-rich, often ambiguous imagery that is based on a private iconography, one that always demands the active participation of the viewer in the production of meaning.

Susanna C. Ott (SO)

Group Shows

  • 2017 I Work Selection I Spielfeld I Kulturbahnhof I Starnberg
  • 2017 I Anlage/Kabine III  | Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2016 I Work Selection | Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich | Munich
  • 2016 I Die Zeugen |Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2016 I Collage 3 | (sound Performance) | Off space (The House) | Group exhibition | Barcelona
  • 2016 I Work Selection | Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich (off space ) | Munich
  • 2015 I Work Selection | Meeting in Orange | France
  • 2015 | Extraktion | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2015 | Collage 2 | (sound Performance) | Off space (Barraca) |Group exhibition | Barcelona
  • 2015 | Collage 1 | (sound Performance) | Sendlinger str 46 |Group exhibition | Munich
  • 2015 | Suchende | The Grand ( Gallerie Weekend ) | Woeske Gallerie | Group exhibition| Berlin
  • 2015 | New border | SalongSolang |Group exhibition | Munich
  • 2014 | The Pipes ( Fragment ) |Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich | Munich
  • 2014 | Das Suchen (Schwarm)| Sculpture | DH Artworks | Dusseldorf
  • 2014 | Performance „Nehmen“ | SalongSolang |Group exhibition | Munich
  • 2014 | Shopping Car 2| Art Fair| Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich |Cologne
  • 2014 | Metal work Selection / „Diese Luft”| SalongSolang |Group exhibition | Munich
  • 2014 | Work Selection| Schloss Burg Gudenau| Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich |Bonn
  • 2014 | Meta | Atelier | Group exhibition | Munich
  • 2014 | The Breathing| Art Cologne| Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich |Cologne
  • 2014 | Work Selection| Cologne List /Art Fair| DH Artworks | Cologne
  • 2014 | Shopping Car 2| ARCO Art Fair| Madrid
  • 2014 | Die Flucht | Prielmeyerstr. 6| Kong | Munich
  • 2014 | Kleiderleichen | BBK Galerie der Künstler | Group exhibition | Munich
  • 2013 | Box | Munich City Museum| Galeria- Autonomica | Munich
  • 2013 | Die Menge | EROS Domagkateliers| Munich
  • 2013 | Cluster | BBK Galerie der Künstler | Munich
  • 2013 | Memento mori | „Curates“ MMA | München
  • 2013 | Work Selection |Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich | Munich
  • 2013 | Kabine 2 (Kleiderleichen) | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2013 | Work Selection | Sommer Show at WiedeFabrik | Munich
  • 2013 | Papier Edition (Park) |Galerie Firstlines | Munich
  • 2013 | Work Selection| Group exhibition | DH Artworks | Dusseldorf
  • 2013 | Day Lecture | Painting | DH Artworks | Dusseldorf
  • 2013 | Suchende | Danner Prize 2011 | Munich
  • 2012 | Apartment West | Galerie Firstlines | Munich
  • 2012 | Anfangsgeliebte | „P3“| Munich
  • 2012 | Die Menge (edition) | Atelier show | Munich
  • 2012 | BLOC / Zweiter Gesang | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2012 | Geliebte / Performance „Geben“ | Galerie Firstlines | Munich
  • 2012 | Kunstverein Dachau | Munich – Dachau
  • 2012 | Kabine 1 | Danner Exhibition | Munich
  • 2011 | Seraph | MaximiliansForum | Munich
  • 2011 | Meta | Prangenberg Class, Group Exhibition | New York
  • 2011 | Inside Out | Rathaus Galerie | Munich
  • 2011 | Abteilung 2 / Hesperiden 3 / con_vex | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2011 | The Hide | BBK Galerie der Künstler | Munich
  • 2011 | Abteilung 1 | Kolumbusplatz Munich
  • 2011 | Work and Progress | Performance | Danner Preis 2011 | Munich
  • 2011 | Group exhibition | Academy of Fine Arts, Entrance, Old Building | Munich
  • 2011 | Lemniskate | Balve/Kiese | Kunstherberge Birkenau | Munich
  • 2010 | Academy of Fine Arts, East Wing, First Floor| Munich
  • 2010 | Im kantigen Fels nach Farben graben | Balve/Kiese | E324 – Off Space für zeitg. Kunst | Munich
  • 2010 | Drunk | Balve/Kiese | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2010 | Art in Au | Munich
  • 2010 | Lightcatcher | Film Festival Munich 2010
  • 2010 | Dante | Installation | Maxes Studios | Munich
  • 2010 | Barocke Invasion | Westwerk | Hamburg

One Man Shows

  • 2017 I Anlage/Kabine III  | Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2016 I Menschenleer / Selection | Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich | Bikini Berlin | Berlin
  • 2016 I Menschenleer | Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich | Munich
  • 2015 I Selection |Salong Solang | Munich
  • 2015 I Extraktion | Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2014 | DH Artworks | Dusseldorf
  • 2014 | Timber | Academy of Fine Arts | Munich
  • 2013 | Selection |Galerie MaxWeberSixFriedrich | Munich
  • 2013 | Park | MaximiliansForum | Munich
  • 2012 | Fragment | Galerie Firstlines | Munich
  • 2012 | 120 | DH Artworks | Dusseldorf
  • 2011 | Sirene | Artionale | Balve/Kiese | St. Markus Kirche | Munich
  • 2011 | Erster Gesang | Galerie Firstlines | Munich
  • 2011 | Room | Balve/Kiese | Old Auditorium, Academy of Fine Arts | Munich

Awards/Honors

  • 2015 | Bank concept Award
  • 2014 | Material Promotion Prize | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts
  • 2014 | Academy Association Promotion
  • 2013 | LfA Award
  • 2013 | Kunstclub13 Award
  • 2012 | Lions Club Prize | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts
  • 2012 | Danner Prize
  • 2012 | LfA Award
  • 2011 | First Prize for Academy Association | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts
  • 2011 | Art in Au
  • 2011 | Danner Prize
  • 2010 | Installation in the Old Auditorium | Annual Exhibition of Academy of Fine Arts
  • 2010 | Film Festival Munich
  • 2010 | Oskar-Karl-Forster Scholarship

 

 

 

 

DR. SUSANNA C. OTT, art historian specializing in 20th and 21st century art; lecturer in the theory and history of photograph at the Institute for Art History, Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt; author and a Kunstclub13 e.V. board member.

ANNA WONDRAK M.A., independent art historian and curator since 2007; curator; specialist in the management of art collections; author of many articles on contemporary art; currently writing her PhD thesis on the artist Hans Baschang.

Jan T. Wilms M.A., studies in art history, American literature, and political science; 2009-2012 guest restorer for the Modern Art Collection in the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; currently acting director of Communication and PR at the Pinakothek and Museum Brandhorst, Bavarian State Painting Collections, Munich.