Solo exhibition Catalogue, in Italian language, essay by Calabrese, Del Massa, Mannoni and Moretti,
at "Carlevaro" Gallery , Genova, March 1969, ed. "Carlevaro" Gallery.

"Not available-out of print"

Catalogue essay

    I have been following Balsamo's painting and his slow but certain evolution, towards shapes more and more perfect, since his first exhibition in Rome.

    What I admire in this painter, who is not very young and not old enjoy choral praise from triumphant critics, is the stubborness with which he walks on the road where his vocation directed him; after all he is self - taught.

    No one taught him how to hold a brush in his hand or to elaborate the impasto. What he knows and does derives from the interest he shows towards things: nature, objects, social phenomena, human personalities.

    All his painting from the distant ( and maybe now disowned) age of the street musicians (he met so many of them in Apulia) to the present landscapes and still lives whisch show different aspects of the second season of his life, between his home in Rome and the frequent journeys north, is the careful, detailed, painstaking diary of his curiosity, the curiosity of a traveller.

    Sun and fog, warmth and mists are mingled and juxtaposed in the range of his production as the different aspects of the same principale closed in the context of a production whose main defect, if we really want to notice it, lies in a certain indulgence towards storytelling.

    But it is not granted that this insistence is always a sin, especially if we deal with a painter who has taught himself with great will and sel - discipline without any mark of pedantry.

    I could say that Balsamo transforms his imperfection, at a certain point, in loving, almost passionate, compliance: it is the subsidence of the Mediterranean civilization (seen as a matter of customs and development of traditions) which unleashes in him the violence of the reds, dimmed, however by the dark blue colours which are - both of them, I mean - the alternative affered by our southern character to the phenomena of existence. The antithesis is inside us: it was born with us and manifests itself in the changeable play of events. Who, more then a Southerner can be merry and sad at the same time, be an optimist and deny all hopes?

    Look for Balsamo's painting here and you will find it: entire, complete, absolute, readable: above all. This is not a small matter in these times, so full of allurements but also of tricks and ambiguity.

Top                                                                     (1969) Michele Calabrese

     His landscape are sometimes based on a sort of naturalism I could call brutal, so devoid of sentimentalism are frames and the stresses, and some other time they are almost abstract in the tangle of lines and tones where the painter, following his inspiration, has almost drowned, forgeful of reality, seduced by the arabesque which came to life under his brush; these are effects of original intensity and liveliness, but they are not thought of as such and this is the reason why they are artistically and stylistically effective. We know that style must be conquered, it can be obtained only by hard work; then, its presence is unmistakeable even it we can't precisely define it. In this collection, which is selected from the works belonging to a ten-year period, it is easy to understand the experiences the painter has lived, controlling his resources and rehearsing together his instruments and his culture; inventions, then, authentic ones, real findings, each one of them characterised by the impulse of giving some sense of reality, half seen, half felt, the synthesis of internal labours, supported, helped, matured by a positive faith in the values of painting.

    In his paintings, colour is not a phenomenon of light, but a modality of volumes and surfaces. He ignores fashions and trends. He paints impetuosly, with wide brushstrokes looking like wounds from whose edges repressed memories come out. Troubled, deeply felt themes are always present, even in shade.

    The painted representation of natural landscapes is perfected through congenital suffering in Vincenzo Balsamo's paintings. It is not by chance that the predominant colours, deep blue and the various hues of green, evoke nightmares which it is difficult to tear away from the recesses of our instinct.

    Questa Puglia vista e capita, amata e sognata, spogliata e rivestita a festa è la vera protagonista della pittura di Balsamo, ed è facile profezia asserire che lo sarà sempre: immagino che i suoi rossi fenici, i verdi raccolti nelle innumerevoli tonalità nella Foresta Umbra, le ocre salentine, i blu greci li porterà sempre con se, dovunque lo trascini il temperamento avventuroso, la curiosità, l'occasione o il destino. Balsamo non è di quegli artisti che si appagano presto e ambiscono alla stabilità: piuttosto mi sembra di riconoscere nel carattere della sua pittura quei segni di vagabondaggio e di alternativa che costituiscono il patrimonio più ricco della giovinezza. Come uno scavatore di diamanti che ha trovato una vena favolosa, Balsamo attinge a piene mani alle risorse della sua rigogliosa emotività. Incontentabile, fino all'ingordigia, egli si getta su un tema e lo sviluppa, lo rovescia, lo spolpa, lo sbrana, si impadronisce delle fibre più segrete, e da esse ricomincia a costruirlo con la pagana, gioiosa effusione della sua sensualità pittorica.

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