The works within Liquid Lake Mountain employ a wide range of media—from sculpture to installation, versitic painting to two-dimensional abstractions. These works mark a departure but not a break within Bala’s practice, reflecting the shifts in pace and perspective that have accompanied his recent move from Bangalore to the countryside in southern India. Taking up the brush for the first time in over two decades, Bala renders landscapes with precision and realism reminiscent of an old master—yet Liquid Lake Mountain expands the classic definition of “fine art,” pairing these perfectly painted images with works that challenge conventional modes of representation. The natural world comes to occupy a central role in all these works—not only as subject matter or even material but also as a kind of collaborator in their creation. The rings in the work titled Liquid Lake Mountain, for example, register as much the process of evaporation as they do the artist’s pigment, just as the forms of Red Earth owe their shape to both his hand and to the paths taken by flowing water. “Nature” here is understood beyond its use as a material or a field for inspiration, instead Bala is interested in the processes that bind all this matter together in an ongoing cycle of exchange and movement.
Bala inserts his works directly into the processes that work tectonically to give shape to our environment: erosion, gravity, condensation, wind patterns, tides, sedimentation, decay and regrowth. The works’ diversity of material and modes of address responds to this ongoing cycle of transformation, as these changes are constantly remaking the natural world. Bala’s works have been featured in exhibitions worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, India; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; École des Beaux Arts, Paris, France; Essl Museum, Austria; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia, 1st Singapore Biennale; and 18th Sydney Biennale. Bala has been a guest lecturer at the Art Department of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and a featured speaker at TED. Bala was born in 1971 in Tirunelveli, India, to where he lives and works.