Beyond Words, a solo exhibition of sculptures in bronze by the Franco-German artist Martin Bialas, curated by Velvenoir’s San Francisco consultant, Alexandra Ray. Martin Bialas has since his early works been using language and imagery to show his influence from both the physical parameters all of us live in, as well as the space that links us to our intuitive or cognitive thought-processes and perceptions. His personal research has led him to extensive Sahara travels, face to face with nature’s bare essentials, shaping his work as much as his philosophical explorations.
Beyond Words examines the evolution of Bialas’ celebrated Déluge installations, and marks the first integration of the human form in his sculptural work. Working almost exclusively in bronze, Bialas’ sculptures and installations are a form of visual poetry-almost like drawing with molten metal. His pieces are often made up of small, individually cast elements that he fluidly assembles. Whether meant to be wall hung or freestanding, the work appears light and airy- filling spaces like falling leaves or words in speech.
The abstraction of language and its poetic uses in Bialas’ work mirrors his journey as an artist. Born and raised in Germany, Bialas studied at St.Martin’s School of Art, London, then lived and worked for many years in Paris before moving south, splitting time between Ibiza and Morocco. Each step of the journey involves a deep discourse with the land and culture, seen most notably in Bialas’ hands on approach working out of a traditional Moroccan foundry in Marrakesh.
Bialas’ déluge sculptures are abstractions of language – floods of seemingly random letters and symbols that cascade down a wall, mixing the origins of language, old and new. In the work Pendulum a massive funnel scatters letters across an open floor, alluding to a sense of time and meaning. In some works line renderings of human heads are shown to be the impetus of the déluge forms, whereas in works such as Encounter we see the first incorporation of Arabic letters in a Déluge inspired wall sculpture. This abstract homage of two major cultures meeting further represents Bialas’ journey between the Western and the Arab world. Integral in this work is the absence of hierarchy. English and Arabic letters mirror each other on the same plane, occupying an equivalent plane. Unlike some of the other works in the series, the letters in Encounter do not seem to be falling, they maintain a horizontal, confident “face-à-face”.
Martin Bialas has a deft touch, a way of turning sculpture, (usually considered quite heavy and solid) into something light and ethereal — using the materiality of bronze he alchemically shapes it like a poet would carefully compose with words.
In a recent conversation with Jules Maeght and curator Alex Ray, Bialas said: “I am aiming to express in Beyond Words all the spheres of awareness that allow us to reflect upon the very notion of space, be it physical or imaginary, Our thoughts are freely circulating around these notions– future thoughts and their possible effect on the course of our life—in a confident, natural flow, like water running down a creek.”