This is the first Canadian exhibition of Spanish artist José Manuel Ballester. Ballester creates large-scale photographs of interior architectural spaces, often eerily uninhabited and of an industrial or institutional anonymity. Many of his photographs celebrate the awesome structural spectacles found in convention centres, factories and museums – latticeworks of steel beams, mile-high vaulted ceilings, reflections on polished concrete floors stretching to infinity.
Ballester alters his images with computer manipulation, accentuating spatial volumes to distend and deepen space. Thus they create a new kind of space for photography, a space that is closer to the illusory perspective projections of old master paintings than they are to “straight” photography. The photographs sustain ambiguity between photographic representation and minimalist abstraction, achieving a melancholic beauty that’s both formally and psychologically evocative. Much of the images’ drama comes from the indeterminate lighting, which deepens their strangeness and accentuates their ultimate independence from human creators and inhabitants.
Ballester, born in Madrid in 1960, has had his work exhibited at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Galeria Marlborough, Madrid; Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia; Charles Cowles Gallery, New York; and Galeria Estiarte, Madrid.