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Balloons: IMPREINT exhibition and artist talk

  • Arancina Restaurant Notting Hill, 19 Pembridge Rd London, W11 3HG United Kingdom (map)

The balloon is concept. The balloon is potential. The balloon is equality. The balloon is beautiful. The balloon is popular. The balloon circulates. The balloon becomes.

The balloon is just a balloon

IMPREINT 304 of 1000.jpg

The Balloon Project by IMPREINT

The balloon is concept

IMPREINT’s balloon project is a simple, clever and scalable creative endeavor combining painting, photography, collaborative processes and digital engagement. The power of the project resides in accumulation, but also in its many well-conceived facets. IMPREINT started this artistic campaign years ago, strategically planning its different stages.

The balloon is potential

One of the fundamental questions the project tackled was the possibility of putting an artistic brand on an everyday object like a balloon, much in the same way that Warhol did with the soup cans and Duchamp with the urinal. That was certainly the ambition in IMPREINT’s case, but only time will tell if this vision can become a success. What is certain as the balloon project comes to an end is that it produced a comprehensive portfolio of visual and collaborative work, all using the bare balloon as symbol, focus and pretext.

The main output is a series of 1000 uniquely executed acrylic on paper balloon paintings. “I started thinking about painting a thousand balloons after an initial experiment with six of them. I tried out different materials and analysed results until I was happy with the formula. I created a particular mix of colours that got discarded after each balloon was finished, so that each of the thousand is a one-off object reflecting on the mood of the moment through colour and form”. The elegant, serene shape of the balloon paintings is striking in its simplicity, as it reflects IMPREINT’s intimate technique: he paints directly with his fingers, in a horizontal position, which gives him a clearer ownership of his creation and makes for a distinctive end result. What gives the balloon series coherence is IMPREINT’s artist signature (his fingerprint), together with the edition number and ribbon which he paints with a specific pen. The minimalist and precise results are a pleasure to contemplate.  

The balloon is beautiful

IMPREINT is also very particular about the paper he paints on, as he pursues a natural folding effect that occurs as the paint dries out, creating a fluid appearance, as if the balloon was seamlessly moving through thin air. There is comfort and calmness in every single image, and these quickly turn into amazement and wonder when faced with the whole thousand lot. IMPREINT’s balloons play with the concept of edition art, as he numbers them and signs them with his print, but they are each personally hand-made, unique objects, challenging the market’s openness to promoting sets of identical objects.

“It's my favorite type of work, something that has aesthetic autonomy and can be enjoyed as it stands; whilst carrying several layers of meaning that you can discover by unfolding the argument. The first impact is the most important with an artwork, and it has to be aesthetically pleasing. If then you discover other components as well, it can become a masterpiece.”

The balloon becomes

Encountering IMPREINT’s balloon project implies unfolding the process of its conceptual and aesthetic development. This involved, consecutively, creating an experimental video in front of the Saatchi Gallery, a montage of several people holding a helium balloon; organizing the Save Me. art workshop with children, encouraging them to paint balloons on charity shop t-shirts; and putting on an exhibition of the balloon paintings in St. Ives. Since then, the balloons have visited and found places in collectors’ homes throughout Europe, including in several London locations. 

The balloon is equality

The simple, repetitive act of photographing people holding a balloon soon gave birth to another branch of the project, the Portraits series, which we were also involved with. “Between August and December 2013 I was studying people’s reactions and considering the value of a picture with the balloon, the repetition of one scene through different perspectives, and the fact that the balloons I was painting were very similar to the people I photographed: all different, beautiful, but imperfect. I then decided to start the Portraits series to show everyone brought together by the basic gesture of holding the balloon, because this balloon was uniting people and treating everyone in the same way.” This was conceived from the beginning as a one year project (Dec2013-2014) which was to gather thousands of portraits from around the world, united by balloons, speaking of difference and equality, of access, hope, visibility and the need of people to get involved in collaborative endeavours. The balloon portraits gained a following of 60,000 fans on Facebook and gave the balloon project a collaborative social dimension through a simple, natural and accessible image-concept. The balloon is popular.

As it comes to a close, the balloon project has many achievements to show for itself and a wide range of visual materials to delight with. These will be exhibited and made public in a strategic unfolding at several different locations, the first of which is Notting Hill’s Arancina. You are invited to engage with the first dissemination of the project from 15 October to 15 January 2014, and to take part in a debate with the artist present on 12 November.

The balloon is just a balloon. Or is it?

Come challenge, enjoy, see, buy, hold and burst a balloon with us.


Later Event: November 28
The Cult House XMAS Pop-Up Show