Roger Ballen

Galerie Karsten Greve

Black and white is what I do. It is unadultered, stripped back, minimalistic and does not imply that it is a depiction or duplication of reality. (Roger Ballen)

The mesmerizing imagery created by self-taught photographer Roger Ballen, who carries a PhD in geology and was born in New York in 1950, are the result of meticulously arranging countless elements by strategically installing them like props on a stage. Human protagonists, whose often unconventional appearance is showcased prominently and is further emphasized by the derelict housing surrounding them, are integrated into multi-layered scenarios. Within them Ballen seeks to uncover – akin to the way the Surrealist movement’s écriture automatique sought to grasp unpredictable mental dynamics – the chaos of the condition humaine without transcribing it into any type of logical framework. „The images I create, I create not to inform. They are much rather meant to be understood as a coherent commentary on the chaos in our incomprehensible world… If I could attach any meaning to the images, they would be nothing more than simple photographs.”

In distancing himself from realistic representation and instead focusing on the image as a manifestation of a state of the mind or the soul, a vision, hallucination, dream or even nightmare, Ballen increasingly brings drawing, painting and graffiti to the foreground of his work. The figurative forms of expression seamlessly blend with newspaper clippings, cardboard drawings reminiscent of the Art brut-aesthetic cultivated by Jean Dubuffet or the Graffiti series of photographs by Brassaï. Roger Ballen’s choice of motif reflects his creative self-conception, according to which the image or rather imagination itself is found in a pre-configured state within the subconscious and cannot be traced back to a singular or definitive origin.


Via Maistra 4

7500 St. Moritz


contact+41 (0)81 834 90 34


opening hours

Mo – Fr 10 – 13 & 14 – 18.30 h

Sa 10 – 13 & 14 – 18 h


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Art 2017, Photography