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02/02/14 In Between Spaces with Allan Balisi

There’s always been a strong sense of narrative in Allan Balisi’s work. His oil paintings—renditions of fragmented moments from films and his personal history—don’t just sit there, they creep up on you. The space between two heads in a discarded conversation, a reclining “Prince” hiding under a book, a door about to open—he has a way of crystalizing our greatest fears and our places of solace. There, is after all, nothing as scary and easy as emptiness and the unknown. His new exhibit “Beggars Fortress” runs in Silverlens until February 8. NOUS recently talked to Balisi about process and why we can’t have everything we want.

It’s been said that your process is “a form of sampling.” What do you mean by that?

I usually take stills from films and use it as source material for my paintings. I manipulate the images by cropping, adjusting the contrast, removing and adding elements. The stills are not just parts or fragments of the film. For me they mean something else, therefore, taking it out from its original context. Sampling, of course, is a term associated more in music. In the context of art, it is appropriation, which is a very common practice.

Would you say that’s informed by contemporary life, in that Tumblr culture, social media, etc are all forms of sampling?

I’m not really an observer when it comes to social media. I can say that I am an active participant of social media but I think it is different from what sampling is. For me, these things have its own language. I don’t know what it is but I’m sure there are books or articles about Internet culture that will best describe it.

What were your influences for your latest exhibit, “Beggars Fortress”?

Houses, conventional house interiors, castles, prisons and barriers, and the fact that we can’t have everything we want.

Do you have any rituals prior to creating?

Clean the studio and browse or watch films, or re-watch them and hoard images from them. But I don’t think that it’s a ritual. [Laughs] It’s part of the process. it also helps me to get things done.

Finally, what else do you have coming up this year?

Several group shows, a two-person show with [artist] Dina Gadia and another solo show by the end of this year.

View Balisi’s past work on his Tumblr:

Raymond Ang