Maria Isabel Ballester

About her art (ENG)

How did it all start?

When I was young, I have always seen my father painting, I liked it. I liked to see him alone, painting. A bit mysterious. Unconsciously the desire woke me up. My idea was not to dedicate myself to the world of art. The biggest inspiration awakens me when I move from Argentina. It was a forced move. I was 18 years old. My father was born in Palma. We return to his roots. I felt lonely and one day I started to play with plasticine. And I discovered something. I started art school and chose sculpture. I was in that school for 2 years. My hands were my tools. I guess I had the gift of being able to represent what I felt. I have not been able to leave it. Life and sculpture are inseparable.

If you were to describe your art

I work with what moves me. My work is very sentimental. It is what comes out of me. With the situations, with the reality that moves me. It is an expressionist style. The faces are essential. For me it’s all there, the expression, the feeling, the wound…

I play with bodies that are sometimes without being there. Sometimes there are people who say: an arm is missing, but for me an arm is not missing, the arm is there. It’s very weird. It is not easy to explain for me. There are two parts: one very conscious. For example, I am going to make a horse, a figure. When I start to work, I no longer know what works.

My father told me that we are instruments and it’s true, because I finished the work, and I don’t know how I did it. Interesting and very mysterious too. Well, I would say that I express what moves me. I would like to express on the one hand something poetic and hope. Sometimes the world is inhospitable. There are people who come in and see my art for the first time they say, “how sad”, but I say no. Perhaps the first feeling is sadness but after sadness, when you take the second look they see something else. I believe that there is some tenderness and hope.

Where do you get your inspiration?

It depends, anything or situation can inspire me the truth. That’s why I think my sculpture is quite sentimental. It can be a phrase, a scene, a poem, an act that I see on the street. A piece of news, even a photo. If you put yourself at a certain angle, anything can give you inspiration. I am a person who does not tolerate violence, so I believe that in my sculptures you can see the wound that an act has caused, not the act itself.

Can you tell me about your exhibitions?

The first exhibitions were in Mallorca, in the year 80-81, some collective, some individual. I am lucky to be in this studio, with the doors open. There have been people who have come in and have invited me to exhibit in, for example, Paris, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. My  first exhibition was in NY 1999. You need to show what you do. You need to be able to keep doing what you do. You need to sell parts. I have had very good exhibitions abroad. I would like to do a big exhibition there again. I would like very much.

If you look ahead in to the future

What interests me is transmitting certain feelings and continue with my current style to be able to continue showing these feelings. Sometimes the body asks you for large pieces, you need it. And sometimes you need to work on very small things. It is very relative, idealizing what I would like to do… I would also like to experiment with some things but always within the figuration because for me it is very important. I don’t see myself in a more abstract world, I see myself in a figurative world. And sometimes with the need to work on a small piece and sometimes something very large. I can’t tell you what will happen tomorrow.

Tell me about the materials you use.

Each piece needs a certain material. When you get to work you know what material that piece needs. The system that I use to work is a very old system. I work first on the ground, then I make a negative in plaster, then change the material or work directly on the material. I need to have direct contact in all work processes. Being able to touch the whole process. Bronze is a very beautiful material, what happens is that there is a part when you do not have control of the piece. It is quite a complex process from casting to bronze. The first original piece, the one that I have made with my hands, so I know if it remains in clay or in whatever material it is, in plaster. For me it loses something if I’m not in the whole process, maybe it’s an exaggeration on my part. I like my materials that are quite natural. The ones that I have a contact from the beginning to the end. I do everything by myself, I like that. I love playing with my hands.

What is important to you in your work as an artist?

I also wanted to say that poetry has always been very important to me. It has been a great source of inspiration. I have my favorite writers. Rainer Maria Rilke together with Samuel Beckett. They have also participated in some way to bring me great inspiration. Poetry has a contact with the soul. I hope I have managed to convey it in my work. It is something that is very close to me. Art does not represent the visible, it makes it visible. What he says is very beautiful. It is a beautiful and difficult path. Sometimes it means a lot of loneliness, but it’s my way of living. I think I could not separate myself from the sculpture.