Review by Oiendrila Moitra
May 08, 2013


Solo works by Alok Bal
April 10-May 20, 2013
Latitude 28, New Delhi


The continuing conflict for existence within the inner self and the outer self composes the works of Alok Bal in his solo show, ‘Ember’. As the artist himself has said, “the subject of the human suffering, which is caused by the corrupt socio-political system. Also the system which we create within ourselves gives more suffering. The result is an imbalance in our inner and outer selves which leads us finally towards destruction.”

The works of Alok has a metaphor in the use of serene colours. The images of the burden a man carrying, the shrubs inside the houses, the animals trapped from their freedom are all images that intertwined to form an image of  the endless suffering of the inner-self of man in the self-constructed demolishes of the society. 

Bal’s each work has an hint towards the rapid growth of urbanisation, the creation that is perhaps destroying the realms  of nature and transforming the world into a space of endless psychological disturbances. His works share a common dark tone which can be metaphorically mentioned to describe the pain behind each image.

In an earlier series in graphite on paper, he had paid an ode to common birds like sparrows that are becoming extinct from our immediate environment because of disappearing foliage and pollution. “I feel lucky if I see a bird outside my window these days,” he says.

However his more successful series is his works with scrap materials, where in 1’X 1’ wooden frames and glass, he have put in the human wastes, plastics tin cans etc. In a world where un-ending production of industrial wastes have left the nature in a barren landscape of destruction, the human wastes are glorified as important artefacts to be put in archive and  preserved in wooden frames and glass. This series is equally interesting, perceptual and inspiring as it has strong anti-aesthetics in its process and production.

In his canvases, however he has become more metaphorical in expressing his feelings, where images of the barren and sad landscapes and the trapped nature form an image of demurred destruction.

His works speaks of a clear conception, yet he wants to put them, “Untitled”. As in his own words, “I sometimes don’t want to give any name to my work. I want the works to be interpreted as they look and not by the titles they have.”

Alok Bal’s show ‘Ember’ has satisfied his curator as well. As Bhavna Kakar mentioned herself, his works have developed over the years becoming more constructive and more concise, where images speak of the concept, where the idea gets clearly expressed through the formation of the painterly planes of the canvases. The artist have no doubt showed his masterly in handling of different aspects of 2D expression, ranging from his canvases to his drawings and also his successful display of the found human waste products. It is a show that raises questions about our existence and left us in finding our own answers.


Habitat I, 7.6 x 6.6, Mixed Media on Canvas