Contemporary medal making is no exuberant mainstream movement in visual arts. However, it does relate to modern painting and sculpture in a remarkable way because spatiality, the flat surface and poetry are combined in small, tangible and easy to handle works of art. It is paradoxical that, despite their small dimensions, medals can be great in their intention and expression. In her medalling, Baltus investigates the possibilities and importance of a small work of art in a bombastic world.
ElIy Baltus makes use of modern techniques and new media in her medal interpretations. This is once again a paradox that shows us how a traditional art form can be relevant in a modern world. The subjects that she works with often relate to the events and issues of the day. An old form tells a new story. Baltus likes to look upon the medal as an installation, radio or stage play, by involving her surroundings and the reaction of those surroundings in her medals. The mix of modern media with ages-old craftsmanship, such as bronze casting, strengthens the conception of medal making.
There lies a certain irony in the exhibition in the Quist display case at museum Beelden aan Zee; the glazed limitation of the display case and within it the limiting criteria of art medalling. In each instance the shape is both limitation and liberation. You know that there are limits that must be challenged every so often. In this, gaining influence on the thoughts of the viewer is an important element. The works of art creep out of the display case and make themselves virtually tangible, with the viewer coming closer to the intention and the meaning of the objects. In order to make this tangibility possible, QR codes are used to capture the displayed medals on the viewer’s mobile phone, turn them over and provide documentation about them. In this way, Baltus’s medals can overcome the limitations of location; the viewer can take them home.
The pleasure of finding new methods and investigating new situations is the greatest motivation in Elly Baltus’s medal making work. Her small objects especially represent the discussion with the viewer. The questions posed in this are not aimed at being proved right, but to show that one can think differently about things.