Roland Baladi


Sculpture, Marble on Marble

Size: 11.4 W x 7.1 H x 5.9 D in

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About The Artwork

LIFE-SIZE RADIO FROM THE FIVTIES The play on the real Transference of the real and its reconstitution, dismantling and remounting of the image, functional detour of the object. Roland Baladi is a perfect example of Huizinga's cherished "homo ludens". When the artist reproduces in marble objects char-acteristic of contemporary design: digital calculator or typewriter, the working of the transference/displacement of the real is even more evident. The functional object's practical value is reduced to zero, and for this value is substituted the esthetic fetishism of the form, united with the material. We know well how the everyday objects of our grandparent end up: tools, lamps, warming pans, revolvers. How and where: they come to decorate our mantelpieces or living room walls, after a brief stint in the purgatory of the flea market or antique dealer. All seems to indicate that Roland Baladi takes a supreme pleasure in accelerating the process of fetishization of the object of our memory. He nimbly anticipates the normal time span of the object's functional destiny, and plunges it all at once into the universe of our collective memory. The use of marble is not gratuitous; rather it is willfully funerary: Baladi consecrates the object's death to the world of design and its rebirth to the memory world of the craftsman. The immediate is fixed in the past, in the same way that Lot's wife was transformed into a pillar of salt; just as the statues at the cemetery of Genes monumentalise the final, fatal moment of the one whose tomb they ornament. Simulacrum certainly, this detour of the real by way of its function and duration. A simulacrum of anti design which creates a new design, a crafted product holding a privileged place in our memory and endowed with the maximum possible of constitutive ambiguities, since it sets off in our memories the realms of art, kitsch, and gadget, ail at the same time. Here are the very modem fetishes which must be exorcised if our sensibility is to be the currency of Nature at large. Roland Baladi's ambition is high: if the play on the real is the world's symbol, life becomes absolute art. Pierre Restany Oct 1978

Details & Dimensions

Sculpture:Marble on Marble

Original:One-of-a-kind Artwork

Size:11.4 W x 7.1 H x 5.9 D in

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Roland Baladi's beautifully realized marble sculptures hover compellingly on the line between total illusionism and iconic symbolism. His use of marble for the replication of such common household objects as irons, toasters and radios affects us with a sense of dislocation that brings the objects he carves into focus at the same time that it alters our perception of them. Unlike many modern representationalist sculptors, Baladi is not invoking a material illusion. There is no question of mistaken identities with these objects: no confusing them with the real thing. This is not trompe l'Å“il sculpture. We are struck as much by their " marbleness " as by their recognizability. Our pleasure comes not from the artist's ability to deceive our eyes, but from the essential inappropriateness of the material to the form. Marble, among all sculptural materials, is the most resonant of tradition - the least whimsical. The traditions this material evokes, from classical statuary to the sweeping classical curves of Arp, are more alive, and perhaps more oppressive for the Mediterranean artist, and it is probably no accident that Baladi, an Egyptian born artist, (his mother is Italian), should choose to both use and challenge these traditions. Baladi spends four months each summer in Carrara working in a studio in which traditional religious and monumental sculptures continue to be created and where a respect for traditional methods is lovingly upheld. Baladi has chosen highly untraditional forms, but the painstaking workmanshipand love of the material remain. These sculptures are, in fact, as much about the physical qualities of marble as they are about the formal qualities of the objects portrayed. They affect us with their cool, insistent sensuality. Polished to a fine, almost eerie sheen, they seem to glow with a ghostly presence. And in a way they are ghosts. The objects Baladi chooses to sculpt are already dated. The sense of familiarity they greet us with is tinged with nostalgia. Like the headstones and mortuary sculpture marble is most often associated with today, they are memorials. Tributes tocommonplace objects that are, because of the rapid changes in industrial design, no longer commonplace. The magic of marble is to seem both hard and soft at once, and the curving, slightly bloated lines of the 1940s and 1950s objects Baladi favors enhances and is enhanced by this quality. Baladi's art is an art of fruitful contradictions.

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