Solo Show Catalogue, in French, Italian and English language, essay by D. Davvetas, at "Decouvertes-Port de Versailles" in Paris, March 1994
and at "ValenteArteContemporanea" Gallery in Finale Ligure, ed. G. Corbelli of Brescia

The Catalogue (full version), is now present on line
If you want view it Click on: Catalogue
(PDF format, 12Mb)

Catalogue essay

Vincenzo Balsamo

In the twenthieth century, through the reciprocal influence of various figurative expressions, but also through the qualitative blending of art with technical and scientific discoveries, painting has overcome the boundaries of aesthetic activity (in the primordial sense of beauty) and has reached the linguistic dimension. Art itself has come to function as a linguistic instrument. The creative entanglement of the boundaries between two and three dimensions, between picture and space, between surface and depth, but also between artistic forms (such as drawing, sculpture, collages, writing, photography etc.), has broadened the formal and conceptual horizon of painting.
Specifically, the interaction between language and image, word and writing, coupled with the experience of new technical and material means of expression, and new meanings, as well as the direct influence of everyday life and discoveries, have turned painting into an exercise in which the fundamental alements of the figurative world incessantly move and reorganize themselves, like numbers and meanings or molecules in their cosmic wanderings.
The pictorial space has become the product of a figurative hybridizazion of means and materials, of the surface and depth of meanings, serving in the quest for a new pictorial language, research that is at one and the same time open and mobile but also structured. Thus, painting has become functional to the search for a flexible and harmonious conceptual configuration, and has ceased to serve exclusively as a means of expressing a pseudo-aesthetic feeling.
This is the strand running through the production of Vincenzo Balsamo. There are two elements in his paintings that can be seen as archetypes of his work, as the basis on and around which the play of his pictorial expression develops: "light" and "line". These two features are the keys to the figurative struscture of Balsamo's works: the light is discreetly, but at the same time incessantly and universally present - a wonderful embrace - the vital breath of all the artist's paintings, whereas the line is the optical and material element that permits their formal reality to be structured and embodied with intimate significance.
Let us now take each of these basic faetures in turn - starting with the letter.
The line (whether straight, curved, or zigzagged) indicates immediately on appearing on the pictorial surface its will to interact as a trace both in the memory and the course of history; according to its form - ranging from geometric figures to the reproduction of numerical, figurative or physical elements - it has a dual function of disarticulation and conceptualization.
But, first of all, what does it disarticulate? It is enough to look at Balsamo's work to answer this question.
In his paintings it seems as if the line seeks to capture essential moments in history of art through the forms given to signs that recall Kandinsky, Mirò, Klee, or even the Russian forerunners of the early twentieth century. But this does not mean imitation. It is simly a sort of "mnemo-bait" meant to capture the observer's noetic - that is intellective - eye, inducing him to pose questions; in other words to start mobilizing his thoughts and curiosity, to activate his mind. This happens because, above all, Balsamo's pictorial act is an act of the essential moments of history of art. These "mnemo-baits" do indeed serve to capture the varous moments of civilization but they also show them with transformed features. The pictorial line displays the well-known signs, at the same time expanding them, splitting them, depicting them as open figures lending themselves not to just one reading, but several. In this creative wandering these signs turn into shapes that are continually opened.
No fragmentary sign is superfluous; each one becomes a point at or from which an unending construction begins, an infinite net or lattice of fragments, a sort of strong but mobile architecture. One the other hand, this microdisarticulation does not spring from a destructive sentiment but rather from a spirit detached and creative in facing what is known of history and civilization.
And this brings us to the question concerning "conceptualization". Just what does the line conceptualize? As a pictorial act it means that the recycling and trasformation of the historycal matter in the artist's work remains a creative adventure. It also conceptualizes the many-sided use of the painting, both explanatory and "noatic" (that is: concerning "meaning"); and lastly it conceptualizes the belief that the experience of the technical and material world is the only way to grasp the fact that reality itself is an intellectual projection, that art is a "mental cause", even though it remains linked to the case and to the universe in its molecular consistency. And at least in the case of Vincenzo Balsamo it expresses the concept that all this pictorial world based on its own language, having its own figurative syntax and net-like architecture, and possessed of its own dynamic variableness, ties in with the light and draws its impulse from it - the creative soul of the work of art.
And now we come to the first main element of the artist's pictorial structure.
Light pervades his paintings as a discreet and tigether propelling force, moving all the mnemo- fragments (or micro-signs) according to an internal hierarchy and not with standing their complex intertwining.
It is enough to follow the line's intricate pattern: we will gradually become lost in the optical maze of the surface. We will "see" no more, but we will enter "into" the painting and see with the eyes of the mind. We shall start to discover the microworlds of this strctural archipelago and recognize the nomadism of their internal structure.
As onlookers, we set off on the wandering adventure through the various moments of the history of art. Light embraces this complex pictorial phenomenon with its quiet heat: it pervades the paintings, their spirit, energy and movement. It is not a natural light but an intellective one, a strengthening of civilization. Without indulging in didactics or narrative entirely void of lyrical thematic, the work of Vincenzo Balsamo brings the traces of a universal historical memory back to life and delivers them to us as material to be transformed, recycled elements that can serve in a new creative act. Leaving aside the hackneyed antithesis between figurative and abstract, the work of Vincenzo Balsamo is a sort of de-construction (thus, fatally, offering raw material for a new composition), and an enriching force in the quest for painting as a "language".

Top                                                                                                      Demosthenes Davvetas

[close this window]