• Lightless Compelling Exploration

    Spotlight by Maria Abramenko on “Ballen by Ballen” exhibition

The serene town of Todi is undergoing a dramatic transformation with the arrival of “Ballen by Ballen,” a photographic exhibition by the American born and South Africa based master, Roger Ballen. Hosted by the Galleria Giampaolo Abbondio from May 25, 2024, to September 2, 2024, this exhibition promises to be a riveting journey into the shadowy recesses of the human psyche.

Galleria Giampaolo Abbondio: A Hub of Avant-Garde Art

Nestled in the historic Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi 7, the Galleria Giampaolo Abbondio has long been a beacon for contemporary art. Known for its commitment to showcasing groundbreaking and thought-provoking works, the gallery offers an ideal setting for Ballen’s hauntingly intricate pieces. The space itself, with its stoical design and atmospheric lighting, enhances the stark, unsettling beauty of Ballen’s works. This exhibition is divided in four rooms showcasing six series of prints.

Over the years, the gallery has featured prominent artists such as Nan Goldin, Andres Serrano, Oleg Kulik, Masbedo, Edo Bertoglio, and Andrei Molodkin among many others, further solidifying its reputation for curating exhibitions that challenge conventional perspectives and very often pushing all the boundaries of artistic expression.

Roger Ballen: Master of Existential Psychodramas

Roger Ballen, born in New York in 1950, has lived and worked in South Africa since 1982. His career, spanning five decades, began in the realm of Arbusian documentary photography but quickly evolved into something far more complex and unique. Ballen’s work defies easy categorisation, blending elements of film, installation, theater, sculpture, painting, and drawing to create what he describes as “existential psychodramas.” These psychodramas delve deep into the subconscious mind, touching on themes of chaos and order, madness, the human-animal relationship, and the interplay between life and death. Ballen’s visual language is rich and multifaceted, often disturbing yet profoundly engaging. His art evokes a visceral response, forcing viewers to confront the darker, repressed aspects of their own psyche.

“Ballen by Ballen” is more than an exhibition; it’s an invitation to step into Ballen’s uniquely disturbing world. Each photograph is meticulously crafted to unsettle and provoke thought. Ballen’s works are known for their stark black-and-white aesthetic, creating a timeless quality that accentuates the eerie, otherworldly feel of his images.

The exhibition includes a special edition of “Dancing with the Angel,” produced specifically to commemorate this event. This piece, like many of Ballen’s works, blurs the line between reality and fiction, inviting viewers to explore the ambiguous spaces between sanity and madness, order and chaos, and often dead rats and cute cats.

Roger Ballen’s influence on the world of contemporary art is profound. With over 25 books to his name, including the recent “Ballenesque, Roger Ballen – A Retrospective” published by Thames and Hudson, his work has been extensively studied and celebrated. In the past few years, Ballen has held over fifty exhibitions worldwide, and his pieces are featured in numerous museums and private collections. Ballen’s work transcends traditional photography, offering a deeply philosophical exploration of the human condition. His ability to merge different mediums and create a cohesive, unsettling narrative is unparalleled, making him one of the most important photographers of his generation.

The “Ballen by Ballen” exhibition at Galleria Giampaolo Abbondio is a must-see for anyone interested in contemporary art and the darker aspects of the human experience. The gallery’s history of hosting groundbreaking exhibitions only adds to the anticipation and excitement surrounding this event.

Roger Ballen / Lightless Compelling Exploration


Artist: Roger Ballen /  @rogerballen
Gallery: Galleria Giampaolo Abbondio / @galleriagiampaoloabbondio
Text:: Maria Abramenko  / @mariabramenko
Assistant: Annalisa Fabbrucci / @annalisa_fabbrucci

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