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Alok Bal

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1969, Orissa, India
Lives and Works in Baroda, India

Alok Bal’s portraits cover a wide array of subjects and places-forests, construction sites, women in enclosed spaces-to negotiate themes of conflict between nature and urbanization, development and environment.



Post-Diploma in Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda


Bachelor of Fine Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda

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His work shows the mundane nature of fragmented identities in everyday life

The fore ground in Alok's painting always obstructs the viewer with lyrical sophistication. But once one transcends beyond it, the mid or the back ground draws in the human within a world fraught with insecurities of existence and social anxiety of unfulfilled aspirations leading to suffocating existence. Alok Bal creates a dreamscape wherein man exists simply as an emblem of his egotism and his powers of voyeurism. This is a mercenary and vicious world is full of apathy which does not escape the notice of this insightful artist. The world created here is not a product of mercenary existence only, but a product of the emotional trauma which borders on nostalgia. In Summer Landscape, we see a representation of the fragmented post modern consciousness of the deconstructed individual who tries to fit himself into the urban alien life of the metropolis.

Alok Bal, Summer Landscape, 2010, acrylic and emulsion on canvas

His works portray ancient Indian folk tales, seen through his perspective

Alok Bal takes the ancient folk tales from India and gives it a contemporary anti-climactic ending. The format is modern, reading like a comic strip, yet the art style is consistent with the unrefined art style of the past, using block colours and basic outline images. In A Web of Water, he uses a 9 part comic strip to retell the old story of the thirsty crow. In the first image, we see a crow flying over a pot of water. Spotting that, he comes to rest on it. But the water level in the jar is too low for him to drink. So he picks up pebbles with his beak and proceeds to drop them into the jar, one by one. After much tedious effort, and a significant number of pebbles, the water level had risen enough to drink from it. Seeing the water, the other animals crowd around to drink. A thirsty man arrives. He spots the jar of water, the animals drinking from it. He lights a fire and scares the animals away. He erects a wall around him to keep the animals away and selfishly claims for himself the jar of water. Thus, in this simple retelling of the classic tale, he has effectively portrayed the dangers of habitat destruction for wildlife and man's encroachment onto forest territory, thereby polluting it both with his presence, his selfishness, and his activities, such as taking over land for private property.

Alok Bal, A Web of Water, 2013

His works express the chaos and disillusionment of modern living

Through myriad colours and elements that twine into chaos, Bal gives pop art of the likes of Basquiat a modern twist, using inventive mediums such as wash on paper and gathered human waste to make a strong comment on the realities of modern existence, the futility and non-sustainability of modern lifestyle and the accumulation of man's waste, both in the macrocosm as well as in the microcosm.
In Missing Soil, Bal laments the habitat destruction and environmental degradation caused by human greed and consumption by using human refuse and waste materials to create art, thus stressing on the reusability and recyclability of mundane objects. In Untitled, he focuses on the emotional baggage or the trauma of existence in a post modern world, using intersecting sketches and silhouettes.

Alok Bal, Untitled, 2008, wash on paper

Alok Bal, Missing Soil, 2012

His works expose the conflict between nature and nurture

Bal’s art represents man’s impulse to subjugate nature, and to this effect, he employs irony and satire, which he uses as tools to express his dissatisfaction and disillusionment with modern life in a metropolis. Bal was very much influenced by British Pop-Artists and their American counterparts, but since then he has found an aesthetic that is very distinctly his own. Bal's works reflect habitat destruction by man, for instance, man's affinity for shaping trees to his own designs, or the arrangement of flowering shrubs around street fountains. In Lawn and Green Landscape, we see recurring themes of savannah in green, with water jets that replenish the ground, in a place where the greenery is protected behind barbed wire fences.

Alok Bal, Lawn, 2006, oil on canvas

Alok Bal, Green Landscape, 2013, acrylic and emulsion on canvas

He uses colour as motifs to communicate ideas

In Alok Bal’s works the usage of metaphorical flying figures, dull yet serene colours, the faint scratches, the realistic and carefully done attributes are like the leitmotifs that are stitched together with finesse and excellent skill, expressing the barren inner urges. The juxtaposition of colours and haunting frames filled with descriptive images themselves urge the viewer quite dramatically to take a voyage into the intrinsic avenues beyond the surface.
For example, in Untitled, he heightens the conflict between concrete and the natural world through the overwhelming use of the gray colour. However, in Wild Game, the two deer are seen playing with a football over a land laid to waste by man's activities of which endangers animal natural habitat and life. The irony of the casual game, while locked at horns, is very politically charged.

Alok Bal, Wild Game, 2013, watercolour on paper

Alok Bal, Wild Game, 2013, watercolour on paper