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
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
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
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".