Roger Ballen’s art is not for the faint-hearted; it is confronting, haunting, and at times repellent. It is also fascinating, brilliant, and jaw-dropping. These images seethe with malodorous discontent, menace, and psychosis. The best way to experience his photographs is to surrender and resist the desire to read the images literally, for it is in the hidden recesses of the imagination that Ballen’s images come to life.
Born in 1950, Ballen was exposed to photography at a young age, growing up in what could be considered the inner circle of New York’s photography scene: his mother opened one of the first photographic art galleries in the United States in the 1960s with Magnum Photos’ André Kertész and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Ballen came to photography after experimenting with drawing and painting, but it wasn’t until he was in his fifties that he left behind a career as a geologist to reconnect with his artistic soul.