Ulrich de Balbian is a male artist born in France, currently working in France.
Ulrich de Balbian image

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Interview http://sacreativenetwork.co.za/2012/06/in-depth-chat-with-inspiring-painter-ulrich-de-balbian/

Who is Ulrich de Balbian and what do you do?

I am in my sixties, born of a German mother and Dutch-French father.

I lived and studied in a number of countries, including Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain.I have doctorates in Philosophy and Theology and qualifications in Social Science and Fine Art.When i was young I did sociological research in South Africa, so I know certain areas, of this vast and very diverse (culturally and geographically) country.I worked as an academic (philosophy, art and world religions) so that I did not have to be dependent on the Art Industry for a living.

Through philosophy I reflected deeply on many aspects of existence, including culture and more specially art, and the Western painting genre.

As social scientist and philosopher (I published fifteen books in that discipline, two in theology and others) researched socio-cultural aspects of art , for example the code of the discourse or socio-cultural; practice of Western Painting

I mention the art Market and Industry as I question the traditional system of commercial galleries, auctions and the influence of billionaire collectors on the price of works of art.

I have studios in South Africa, Spain and France.

How would you define your style or art?

The lengthy introduction above had a serious point. I wished to show that I question all aspects of art, and especially painting. I intentionally choose to paint, in the Western tradition, instead of working in the so-called New Media, creating installations, performance art, ready made, etc. I think and hope that there still is mileage in the Western tradition of painting.

I see my work as totally experimental and a kind of serious research. Not merely in a cerebral or rational manner, but first of all on a sub-conscious level, exploring how we think about objects, how we perceive them, etc

I work piecemeal, something like Wittgensteinian philosophers, exploring every detail of the process of painting, bit by bit. Each of these bits are developed into a series of paintings.

I do not have one single style, but gradually discovered that I unintentionally work in series (of 2, 3, 4, 5, etc). The only other artist I have come across who works in this manner is the German Gerhard Richter. If someone wishes to understand my work better they should study his work (as well as Paul Klee, Kandinsky and the ideas of the Bauhaus) as he is my predecessor. I do not follow or copy him, but work in the same tradition as he, and they, did.

It appears as if I do not have one single style and that my work – the different series – is merely random, but this is not the case. The larger picture will reveal that my entire work form one unit, in other words the seemingly random aspects, as in Chaos Theory, will be shown to make more sense in the totality.

Given all the above, my questioning of all aspects of the discourse or socio-cultural tradition of painting, the manner in which our minds (thinking, perception, etc), emotions and trial consciousness operates – leads to what I termed New Styles, a style beyond one and all styles.

My work has a deeply spiritual side. Not in the narrow meaning of the word as forming part of a particular religion, but as tuning into the Ground or basis of existence of human beings, the earth and the entire Universe. Or rather the many universes or multi-verse, as scientists are expressing it.

All this might appear to be very abstract, but painting and the process of painting is something totally concrete. But, by means of paint, brushes, etc I attempt to arrive more and more at the (he)art of Creation, the underlying Ground or basis of all of Creation, of the building blocks of the Universe. This has many similarities to the research of scientists of phenomena that are not visible to the human eye, but that can only be thought in complex mathetical formulae. By means of painting I make Visible that what is until that moment, Invisible to usual human thinking. Most people think in a dualistic manner (because they are socialized like that), but the non-dual way tells us that the subject who perceives, the object that is perceived and the process of perception is ONE whole (all religions, contemplatives and those who meditate attempt to arrive at this non-dual, direct way of perceiving,. or of being one/d with that what is perceived).

I express the above like this in the context of looking at my work:

The human mind treats smaller paintings as if it is looking AT an object or a thing such as a table or chair.

But larger works are experienced (like installations) as if one is part of them and participate in them.

Now that you know this please do not treat these images as if they are just more objects or things you look AT, but experience and participate in them.

I always express what I think abstractly in this kind of very concrete manner. And, by this simple example the point of all my seemingly abstract talk suddenly comes together as something very concrete, and thereby shows that matter (concrete painting and the stuff a painting is made of) and the spirit (ual) is one – merely two different ways of looking at the same thing. Two perspectives on the same thing, like the two sides of a coin, or looking at a house from the front, the back, the sides, above. All the different points of view contribute to one thing. In the tradition of Abstract painting, Braque, Picasso and others tried to express this unity of many perspectives in a certain manner. I explore and express or do it in a different way.

What inspires your work?
I am first of all a painter for the sake of the Western tradition of painting. By this I mean, if it were not for certain painters who existed before me and explored and developed this tradition of painting, I would not have been able to think the way I do, and explore the process of painting in the manner I am doing. I form part of this tradition. To feel part of this tradition is what inspires me to paint – over and over again. As Richter said: one must be passionate about doing this stupid thing of being all alone most of the time because if one were not passionate about it, then for adults to play around with paint, colours, etc would be nothing but mere idiocy.