Jovan Balov

Jovan Balov paints hyper-realistic portraits in monochromatic brown and beige colours, acrylic on canvas in medium formats, usually around 90 x 110 cm in size.

Balov does not merely arrange his portraits, he develops them by conceptual exploration of the personalities depicted in them. By holding intensive discussions with them, taking selections of photographs at the same time, he approaches their characters and what he wants to reveal beneath the surface of the person being portrayed. He also tries to bring hidden elements into the open.

He chooses carefully from the photographs to find the ones that reflect his impressions, then he makes various cross-sections from the photos, rearranges different halves from different photographs, and thus assembles a new face. The forehead with its hair, the eyes, nose and ears, the mouth and chin, and finally the neck are usually put together from different illustrations or are mirrored, one side of the face smiling, one side looking serious, or one part facing a different direction, combining the features to make a new whole face.

Balov develops hyper-realistic portraits where the aim is not to mimic nature in a lifelike way, but to realistically transcend reality. Differing from photorealism, which mostly aims just to achieve beauty through brilliantly realistic depiction, in his hyper-realistic portraits Jovan Balov slightly exceeds reality and poses the question as to the nature of things and the nature of the person being depicted.

Rolf Külz-Mackenzie

Life: Jovan Balov

Jovan Balov, born in Skopje in 1961, is a Macedonian artist, gallery owner and curator living and working in Berlin. Initially he studied archaeology, then fine arts in Skopje before studying at the University of the Arts Berlin at a later date. Apart from his artistic work he runs the project space Prima Center as a part of the Kolonie Wedding association, where he organises, curates and presents many exhibitions focusing on artists from South-East Europe. As an initiator and promoter, he has organised exchange programmes and projects in Norway, Belgium, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.

He was honoured to receive the ‘Rigas Charta’ award in Athens in 2007 for his trans-border promotion of the culture of the Balkans. In 2013, he was awarded the first prize ‘European Capital of Culture’ by Gallery Du Colombier in Paris for his paintings. The European Movement of the Republic of Macedonia named Jovan Balov a cultural ambassador in 2015, and he received the distinction of ‘European Personality of the Year 2014 for the Republic of Macedonia’.