Henry Ballate is an innovative, eclectic and provocative figure in the local art scene. His work is easily recognizable through his use of known iconography, which are essential to his public interventions and appropriations...
Admiring a work from the very moment of its creation, of its birth, is an indescribable pleasure. To see it, and know with certainty that it will be included in the closed circuit of the institution of art; knowing that it is a genuine piece...
Have you noticed how everybody takes it for granted a bad experience is automatically, unreservedly, unremittingly bad? That nothing good could ever come from a bad childhood, for example? I’m hearing the comment more...
Henry Ballate, I'm with her, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60"
I'm with her
The prodigal son
by Roxana M. Bermejo.
Admiring a work from the very moment of its creation, of its birth, is an indescribable pleasure. To see it, and know with certainty that it will be included in the closed circuit of the institution of art; knowing that it is a genuine piece, a blow and a shot in the dark...
November 8, 2016
The United States is motivated with fired enthusiasm by the presidential elections of 2016. Not often in American History have we seen such a high degree of bewilderment in voters. On what is often called the “red” or republican side we find one of the most unpopular candidates in recent history to receive the Republican Party nomination, Donald Trump: full of faults and impurities. On the “blue” or democrat side these is former US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is accused of mishandling documents and misusing her powers as Secretary of State. Both candidates are deplorable options; both broken ...perhaps one more than the other (although that is a topic for another article). Trump is accompanied by his promise to "Make America Great Again" and his wife, a beautiful ex-model decades younger with a somewhat shady past by conservative morality standards. This includes several nude and lesbian-leaning images which will undoubtedly shake up how she is viewed as First Lady. Artist Henry Ballate takes on one of these controversial images and juxtaposes it against the solemn American Flag while using Clinton’s presidential campaign slogan, “I’m With Her.” The resulting piece which is polysemic unlike other works of art provides the viewer the ambivalence between the title and its visual representation. To digress, it allows the viewer to wonder or determine for themselves who the creator will vote for.
Timely in its birth, the work cites not only this political environment in which it was created but also to the history of art. It echoes the witty and clever way the great icon Jasper Johns’ flags that were raised against the background of newspapers of the time. Under the same auspices Ballate also places his composition of solid lines on a deceptively white base that lets you glimpse in depth the news where Trump is presented as the next president of the United States. On the camouflaged newspapers - which disturbs the artist enough to want to erase them, this fiery image of Melania is based on the simplicity and purity of graphic design, a simplicity that seems to have been extracted to a greater irony from the unequivocal propaganda language of newspapers.
In the midst of this electoral tidal wave Henry's piece is perhaps no more than a summary of the current state or a frustrated response to the continuous chatter in the face of those who want to change the party. I fervently believe that the power of a work becomes to a large extent the temporal space in which it is raised; the emotional environment in which it reaches the world as a child who can already be disturbed from the womb of its mother. In this sense I cannot doubt that “I'm With Her” is a product, the product of a hybridization process. For that reason alone, it is as anachronistic as it is striking, pregnant and sarcastic…as if from the union of both candidates a son was born and America welcomed him with open arms.
Roxana Martínez Bermejo, Havana, 1992.
Historian and art critic
Graduated in History of Art from the Faculty of Arts and Letters of La Universidad de La Habana. At present she works as editor of specialized magazines Art-Sôlido. Worthy for her book Bitácora del sujeto ausente, First Novel Internacional de Poesía Universitaria “Cátedra Miguel Hernández” de la Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Alicante (Spain, 2016). Participant in various national and international events, related to the Caribbean and Latin American culture. Texts of his research profile have been published in spaces such as the magazine and Tabloid Artecubano, AMANO: Oficio & Diseño, FullFrame and the digital film portal Cuba Now.
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