With this new body of work, Mike Ballard explores the visual language of the city. The exhibition is an exploration of the gestures and codes that are overlooked by the everyday pedestrian. Inspired by the abstract compositions found in the urban environment, and the territorial markers that divide public and private space, he is fascinated by the visual noise that the City’s infrastructure presents.
His research takes the form of citywide wanderings, ‘finding’ his source material in building site hoardings and painted pavement markings. They form a pattern of language that is driven by gentrification and digital progression, yet also display one of exclusion and escape. The work becomes a method to re interpret the secret language that we walk over and past on our hurried passage through the city. Ballard slows our gaze and redirects it towards the moments of human interaction on impenetrable surfaces.
His latest series of ‘Anti-Landscape’ paintings are based on the urban hieroglyphics of utility companies. The painted marks left by road workers, to indicate the location of underground networks, forms a code between the different utilities, water, electricity, gas, and telecommunications. These subterranean networks provide the infrastructure that drives and maintains modern life. The artist views each paving slab as a Ready-made composition of dirt, paint, pollution and chewing gum. These surface marks are re-presented by Ballard using a mix of traditional oil paints and Line-Marker spray paints. Conflating high and low culture, urban codes are translated into the language of minimal abstract painting.
The sculptural elements in the exhibition are created from Ballard’s collection of hoardings that are cut down and made into geometric collaged structures. The new forms created provide an alternative context for their painterly qualities to be considered by transforming the language of regeneration and the aesthetics of ownership. The resulting installation invites the viewer to examine and rethink the dialogue between medium and context and their own relationship to the city.