Mark Balma is a master painter who incorporates techniques of the early Renaissance into timeless portraits, fresco murals and studio works. His studio works reflect a diversity of images, including spiritual and classical themes, social commentaries, landscapes and still lifes.
His portraits include four U.S. Presidents, European Heads of State, Business Executives, Music and Cultural Celebrities, as well as Private Individuals. Two paintings in the Vatican’s permanent collection, Rome, Italy. His fresco murals can be found in the Museum of Spiritual Art, Assisi, Italy, the Cathedral of Saint Paul, Saint Paul, Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis Campus, Minnesota.
In his drawings, paintings, and fresco murals, Mark Balma applies old-world painting techniques to contemporary topics. He captures the soul of his subjects and expresses qualities that go beyond realism and into the realm of the spirit.
As a painter, Balma incorporates the techniques of Leonardo da Vinci and carries forth the tradition of portraiture as practiced by the early Italian masters and his teacher and mentor, famed 20th-century Italian painter Pietro Annigoni.
“For as long as I can remember, I have drawn people, no space ships, trees or animals. It was always people who inspired me.”
Mark Balma was born in Wichita, Kansas. He studied in the academic Tradition of drawing and painting at Atelier Lack in Minneapolis, MN, until leaving for Italy at age nineteen to study with Maestro Pietro Annigoni in Florence, Italy.
He works in egg tempera, watercolor, oil, and fresco and has maintained studios in Florence, Italy, Assisi, Italy, London, England and Minnesota, USA. His mastery of drawing is expressed in etchings, stone lithography, and drawings in pencil, ink and red chalk.
The subjects for his portraiture include children, adults, family groups, and official portraits for business and government. Works have been exhibited in Europe and America and are in both private and public collections.
Mark Balma is considered a metaphysical realist, one who paints beyond the reality of the subject toward the spiritual.
He creates works in an early Renaissance technique pioneered by Leonardo da Vinci. The oil paintings are composed of many layers of hand-ground paint superimposed upon each other in a secret mixture of essential oils and resin. The result is an exceptional depth and richness of color that complements the soul and character of the painting.
Wichita, Kansas, 1957
Armstrong Sr. High, 1973-1976.
Atelier Lack, 1974-1976.
Atelier Childs/Mairs 1976-1979.
Individual instruction with Pietro Annigoni, Florence, Italy 1981-1982. (Studied fresco and portraiture)
Two consecutive yearly grants Elizabeth T. Greenshields Foundation, 1977-78
Museo Vaticano, The Vatican. Francis and the Pardon, tempera on canvas.
Museo Poldi Pezolli, Milan, Italy, La Signora Vaselli, oil on canvas.
“Recent Works”, Juliann Gallery, Wayzata, Minnesota, 2006.
“Italian Sojorn”, Minneapolis Club Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2001.
“Mark Balma-Painting and Drawings”, House of Hope Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1999.
“The Art of Fresco Painting. Mark Balma, A Contemporary Master”. Exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut, 1994-1995.
“Mark Balma, Paintings and Drawings”, Galleria “Il Ponte,” Milan, Italy, catalogue, 1981.
“57Princes,” Art-A-Whirl Exhibit, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2016.
“The Man Who Fell to Earth: A Tribute in Art,” Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2016.
“London Art Biennial 2015,” Chelsea Town Hall, London, England, 2015. ”Group Show,” Abode Gallery, Stockholm, Wisconsin, 2011. Works on Paper, Gallery Artists, Hoorn-Ashby Gallery, New York, New York, 2001.
“Contemporary Realism,” group show, Gerold Wunderlich & Co., New York, New York, 1990.
“American Realism Abroad,” traveling group show, Colby College, Butler Museum of American Art, catalogue, 1990.
“Contemporary Realist,” group show, Gerold Wunderlich & Co., New York, New York, 1989. Royal Portrait Society, London, England. Portrait paintings, catalogue, 1984.
The Double Realm, two artist exhibition, Leighton House Museum, London, England. Paintings and drawings, catalogue, 1983.
“Minnesota Arts Show,” (juried) Minnesota Center for the Arts, Minnetonka, 1980.
“Twin City’s Guild of Painters and Regional Realists,” Minnesota Center for the Arts, Minnetonka, Minnesota, 1980.
“Instructor’s Show,” Minnesota Center for the Arts, Minnetonka, Minnesota, 1980.
“Gallery Artists,” The Loring Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1979.
“Minnesota Artists Show,” (juried) Minnesota Center for the Arts, Minnetonka, Minnesota, 1978.
“The Ties that Bind”, George W. Bush Presidential Library, SMU, Dallas, Texas, 2014.
“The Kennedy Assassination: A Decisive Moment in America’s History”, Exhibition and symposium surrounding the first public display of Pieta, Cathedral of Saint Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2006.
“Portrait of Governor Rudy Perpich and Lola Perpich”, Minnesota State Capital, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2000.
“A Shared Vision”, Cannon House, Washington D.C, 1997.
“Resolution”, The George Bush Presidential Library, College Station, Texas, 1997.
“Two Historical Frescoes”, The Saint Paul Cathedral, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1996.
“The Four Statesmen”, World Forum, Beaver Creek, Colorado, 1996.
“Timeless Art in the Heart of the City”.Gala for the completed frescoes on the atrium ceiling at the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis campus, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1994.
“We the People”, portable fresco, Minnetonka Center for the Arts, Minnetonka, Minnesota, 2012. From the Garden, Pacem in Terris, St. Francis, Minnesota, 1999.
“The Mediatrix”, St. Mary’s University, Performing Art Center, Winona, Minnesota, 1984-1986. Lady of the Lake, Huber Funeral Home, Excelsior, Minnesota, 1986.
“Pastore”, Brocatelli Cheese Shop, Assisi Italy, 1989. Baptism of Christ, Church of St. John the Baptist, Pieve San Nicolo, Italy. 1991.
“The Seven Virtues”, University St. Thomas, Minneapolis Campus, Founder Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1992-1995.
“Two Historical Frescoes”, The Cathedral of Saint Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1996-1997. Clare, Peace, Poverty, Prayer, Frescoes for Assisi, Basilica St. Chiara, Assisi, Italy, 1995.
“Muse of Architecture”, portable fresco in corporate center, Opus Corporation, Minnetonka, Minnesota, 1994.
“The Resurrection”, St. Therese Church, Deephaven, Minnesota, 1997.
“Mark Balma, Drawing From Tradition”, Eliasoph, Philip with contributions by Bruce Cole and David Bomford. Published by Electa Editions, Milan, Italy, 1993.