Wilhelm Sasnal's painting encompasses a dazzlingly rich variety of forms: landscapes, portraits, interiors, pictorial narratives with texts, and gestural and geometric abstractions which are executed in the most diverse painterly styles. While many of his abstractions echo the sharp definition of Pop imagery, the extraordinarily broad range of the source material he employs, from daily news, comics, album covers, novels and art books amongst other things, are combined to create a visual vocabluary where the personal and the public coincide. Discarding the habitual themes of painting, in particular the debate about its relationship to photography, Sasnal mingles almost photorealist forms with splashy drips of paint, free-hand drawing or comical arrangements which make the only possible reading of his works an entirely subjective one.
In Untitled (Two men throwing bombs from a balloon), Sasnal has reduced his palette to shades of black, grey, and white, with no hint of colour. The gloomy atmosphere this creates make the painting appear like a ghost of other images, as if the actual event occurred some time ago. A single action, the two men in a balloon throwing bombs at some non-specific target, is apparently captured in sharp, dark relief, yet the balloon, which we only believe is a balloon once we have read the title, hovers in an otherwise mystifying haze of cloud or space, like a dreamt memory of the actual event.
The title gives the painting profoundly ambiguous intentions: the notion is a comical one, but the contemporary reality of the ever-present threat of increasingly unpredictable terrorist activity, which is further suggested by the sombre palette, inevitably lends this painting a strange and disquieting atmosphere that lingers on in the mind long after the viewer has moved on.