Rafat Ballan

Syria, 1990

Raafat Ballan’s work aims to highlight particular social and political urgencies that he has experienced first-hand through his artistic and political journey. While in Syria, Ballan trained as a painter at Damascus University, Faculty of Fine Arts. The subjects of his graduation work in 2014 articulated universal themes, though many of his figures evoked a certain feminine quality that carried on in his work. Having left Damascus shortly after graduating, he relocated his studio in Lebanon, then Turkey.
In 2015, he eventually settled in the Netherlands where his subjects and ideas surfaced. The portraits-faces, half and whole figures–often seem to revolve around a family setting. Stylistically, Ballan’s work finds itself between the canonical modern masters of the Western tradition, such as Francis Bacon, and other artists of the Syrian diaspora, such as the late Marwan Kassab-Bachi (1934-2016).
Over the last few years, Ballan has been an artist-in-residence in several institutions both nationally and internationally including AGA LAB and Studio Yalla in Amsterdam. In 2017, he collaborated with Maze de Boer for an installation at the Tijdelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Following this exhibition, the works went to Art Rotterdam in 2018, which led him to take part in a project called Give Us the Museum in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 2018.
In 2019, Raafat was one of two winners of the Galatea prize. Most recently, Ballan was selected to do illustrative work for an EU project called Minosia Labyrinth, which he is currently working on.