Is it possible to suddenly begin painting intensively in the prime of life, without changing one's lifestyle? Supposedly there is a price to be paid for everything. So, must an artist place on the so-called altar of art his entire, neatly-arranged life to date, and sacrifice the good name of husband and father, as in the case of Gauguin, or many other gentlemen with romantic souls about whom art history is silent?

It seems that not necessarily. Andrzej Bala is a case in point. He wanted to be an artist from childhood, but historical circumstances militated against this. So he became a physicist.
After studying at the Teacher's College (WSP) in Katowice, he devoted himself to work as a pedagogue.

No-one supposed that there was art smoldering within the soul of the esteemed physics teacher at the academic secondary school (liceum) in Myslenice. The concrete, demanding gentleman did not betray this by his appearance. But suddenly, at a certain moment, there must have come to him with complete clarity an awareness of sin.., which he would be committing if he were to bury his talents! So he began to fan the flame of art. A fire broke out--but not to burn the artist, nor the bridges connecting him with his loved ones.

Andrzej Bala, a strong man, set himself a difficult task: to engage in art, but without allowing
himself that which for many was both a rest from the concentrated effort of creating an artistic world,
and a throwing of yet another net on their vision - -and simultaneously, a complete degrengolada -- that
which eventually turned an artist like Modigliani, a boy from a good home, into a demon of pleasure. He
ended up terribly.., as a person.

The difference lies in the fact that Modigliani, Gauguin --these were artists who cleared the
way for others. They opposed accepted ways of creating works of art., each new day was for them a
challenge to fight for a new, original art.., and to survive.

Our artist has neither such ambitions nor such problems. Nor has he a belligerent spirit. Simply -
after a few dozen years of useful work with youth, filled with dreams about painting -- fulfillment finally
came to pass. That essential completion, the adding of radiance to one's own life. Andrzej Bala is happy
that he has been able to open up a world of beautiful visions.

That which he carried under his eyelids is now on record. The artist struggles neither with vision, nor
with composition, nor with color.

The portraits of girls and young women with almond-shaped eyes are suggestive. Ladies and
girls, caught in moments of deep thought, in a moment given to them, torn away from the monotony
of everyday activities, or else simply festive, keeping up appearances, in hats, appear to be reproduced
centimeter by centimeter according to the vision which the teacher carried somewhere between head
and heart. And that, for a long time--for the models are sort of from the early 'sixties.

One way or another, the faces of women in Andrzej Bala’s paintings, dreamy, caring as well as
sweet, can always be recognized among a crowd of other paintings, just like the faces of women and
children from the brush of the pride of the Ecole de Paris, Rajmund Kanelba.

Inspirations? Ah, Andrzej Bala certainly -- like every student of painting, like every mature artist,
like every art-lover--did his share of snooping: made the rounds of the museums, surrounded himself
with reproductions. Among the artists whom I mention, not without reason, are Jerzy Nowosielski,
Kazimierz Mikulski, Andrzej Wr6blewski--mostly from the Human Chairs, to fill in the measure of the
painter's fascinations.

And now a question: OK, but where did he get his technique? That one can't get just by looking:
one must practice! And that's just it! When did Andrzej Bala practice his special way of combining
subdued reds, those from the cooler shades, with pearly tones and delicious, cobalt blue bordering on
violet? How did he arrive at such mastery of contour, for it not to be 'wiry', and yet beyond that, portray
the spaciousness of a flat painted form?!

How the heck does get his oil paintings to have a matte, but not entirely dry, refined surface?
And when did he arrive at the moment of awareness that synthesis, the discarding of superfluous things,
is one of the most important ingredients of good composition? Is it possible that over the years, without
paint and brush, solely in his thoughts, he practiced brush strokes and, painting in the air, measured

A phenomenon, a riddle, a fact. Probably no-one knows the secret, not even the artist himself,
whom talent sometimes takes by the arm. As a result, Andrzej Bala gives us, too, a bit of his good
fortune. He paints pictures without a trace of pretension, clear, friendly, prettily observing the viewer.

Marek Soltysik

translation Cara Thornton Krakow, 19 May 1999

Flickr Photostream

Meet The Author

Twitter Updates