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Ballooned!

International artist Kobi Kalimian has an active imagination, which is evident from the figures he has ‘blown up’

Published: 24th May 2017 11:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th May 2017 04:54 AM   |  A+A-

Kobi Kalimian’s art on display

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The floor of Kobi Kalimian’s workspace is strewn with multi-coloured balloons strung together as we gingerly pick our way through it. “Don’t worry, these balloons don’t burst on contact,” he laughs, just as a loud crack echoes around the room — one of the balloons he was filling with air just did. “Occupational hazard!” he shrugs. A certified balloon art designer, Kobi is in town to create a series of installations at Phoenix Market City, including a 13-feet tall pirate ship made entirely
from balloons.  

For someone who used to work as a cell phone salesman, the 32-year-old Israeli chuckles when we ask if it wasn’t a stroke of luck that he realised he was this creative at balloon art. “I am not a good artist — I can’t paint or draw, and my handwriting is a disaster!”
he laughs.

Kobi was introduced to balloon art five years ago by street-side balloon twisters in Jerusalem, when he was absolutely fascinated by the art. “The next thing I did was to buy a pack of balloons and challenged myself to make the toughest balloon sculptures I could find on YouTube!” he smirks.
His flair grew and he soon found himself making live installations for weddings and parties in his native country.

“Weddings are obviously big celebrations — I make different sort of balloon hats for the bride and groom and the guests as well!”He often turned up with nearly 8,000 balloons in his bag and would exhaust them all by the time a party ended. “I even created a life-size motorcycle using balloons in my first year and even an all-balloon wedding dress. But unfortunately, I couldn’t find anybody to model for it!” he smiles.

Kobi is a certified balloon artist, having passed a series of examinations conducted by balloon making pioneer Qualatex Balloons. The first part of the exam is actually theoretical — it comprises surprisingly complex questions on how to calculate the gas in a helium tank used in his designs, how to measure the size of an arch and how many balloons to put into it and so on.
“They also test us on how to combine colours so that they look appealing and professional. You can’t put green and orange balloons together and make it look good. The third was a five-hour practical on actually creating structures using creativity and improvising.”

Kobi adds that though anyone can be a balloon twister, being a balloon art designer with a CBA certification makes you get your work noticed well.
The biggest installation he has done was a 27-metre high dove for world peace that he and 15 other balloon artists created in Israel. He is fresh from doing similar installations at Phoenix Mall in Mumbai with his colleague Yosef Niam, where he set up a similar sized dragon installation in Kurla. “I brought nearly 60,000 balloons with me to India — I almost didn’t have space for my own luggage. But I didn’t want to be stuck without balloons in India!”

Though he claims that he has a ‘good addiction’ to balloons and loves to make people happy using them, for his large family — he has five children — they’re not novelty anymore. “Apart from my youngest son, all of them are tired of having balloons around all day!”
he chuckles.

Kobi’s installations are on view at Phoenix Market City till the 26th.



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