Daniel Balabán

* 1957

  • “Right after the revolution, in January 1990, there was a big exhibition in the Brno House of Arts. It was about the artists creating art in Ostrava who couldn’t exhibit in during the Communist era. Petr Beránek, the former greatest cultural censor of the local National Committee, a diehard communist and the director of the House of Arts, was the curator of it. So, this person provoked this exhibition that actually had some really interesting names, apart from the well-known ones. Our group and I wanted to participate too, of course, especially given their declaration that they wanted to map everything interesting that had not been allowed to be presented in the totalitarian times. But they refused to exhibit our work at the House of Arts, naturally. Which is why we got ourselves an alternative space in the hall Z of the ‘Černá louka’ exhibition grounds and organized the so-called Salon of the rejected. Both the exhibitions were opened at the same day and a number of people who went to the House of Arts also came to see our display.”

  • “That uncle didn’t really understand art much, and if yes then only indirectly. He might have known his way around classic modern art but definitely not the post-modern painting that I had been propagating. He did, however, send me books, I have to give him that. I had many books thanks to him. It must have been expensive even for him because back then a book cost around twenty, sometimes even forty dollars. He paid the money for it, even though the content of it was horrible to him. He always wrote me that he was sending it with great concerns. On the other hand, he probably believed it would be of use to me. I have these books to this day; I really love them, and I know every page of them because it had been like a window to the world to me. He also used to send me literature. That’s why I could read Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti or Gregory Corso in English even though it was later published in Czech. I used to get different warnings with these books: ‘Please don’t read this, it was written by a gay.’ Or: ‘The guys say that Ginsberg is Freedom Bullshit but I am sending it to you anyway.’”

  • “I exhibited my work at an abandoned bus terminal in Strašnice where I had had to build scaffolding, create fake walls, bring the paintings and hang them. Many interesting people from the alternative scene came to the vernissage, as well as a delegation from the regional national committee of Prague 10 which commanded that two paintings had to be taken down. On the front wall there was an Amazonian parrot, tied with straps on a cauliflower field and right next to it was a painting of Virgin Mary on the Moon. The officers figured out that this had in fact been a cryptograph. Based on their interpretation, the parrot signified the Pope. It was at the time of this affair when Husák and Jakeš didn’t want to let the Pope visit Czechoslovakia – and apparently I reacted to it in such a cunning way. In the end I only took down the Virgin Mary and the parrot stayed.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Ostrava, 03.05.2019

    duration: 02:32:46
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Ostrava, 09.08.2019

    duration: 03:08:01
    media recorded in project Stories of the region - Central Moravia
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I tried to think about the sacrament, the body and soul, but also about what’s vulgar

Daniel Balabán in 1993
Daniel Balabán in 1993
photo: archiv pamětníka

Daniel Balabán was born September 20, 1957 in Šumperk but his family moved to a block of flats in a housing estate in Ostrava-Hrabůvka when he was five years old. While growing up, he was shaped by the strong evangelical background of his family which later resulted in high school disputes but also in difficulties during admission exams at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. After three years of attempts he was finally accepted to František Jiroudek’s studio where he then studied from 1979 to 1984. He returned to Ostrava after graduation, industrial landscape of which had also been the theme of his master thesis project. In the next period, clear post-modern tendencies working on biblical motives can be identified in his work. In the late 1980s he founded an artistic group ‘Přirození’ together with his brother Jan, Hana Puchová, Jiří Surůvka and others. They organized a number of alternative exhibitions and happenings. The Velvet Revolution enabled him to enter the sphere of official institutions and galleries. In 1993 he had an exhibition in the Václav Špála Gallery in Prague and was nominated as a finalist of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award. He became a teacher of painting at the Faculty of Education, University of Ostrava the same year. With time he got his own atelier and is the head of the Department of Painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava as of now. He became an associate professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in 2004.