Lights on Davide Balliano’s allegoric morphologies

Davide Balliano‘s late body of work has a characteristic thematic vocabulary that underlines the continuity in what fascinates the artist in his own minimalistic world. The Italian born and now New York-based emerging artist Davide Balliano (b.1983) is significantly celebrated for his minimalistic canvases in which he demonstrates his allegoric concerns about the universe and the human nature. Loyal to his promise to keep aesthetically simple concepts and ideas, Balliano develops his engagement with abstraction and geometric depictions in a way that lends to each of his paintings a luminary sense of mystical message to the viewer. Although the artist has also shown his commitment to other art mediums –such as ceramic, stone and sculptures in wood– his main means of expression are paintings. His painting series are predominately black and white oriented, subtly elegant with alluring enigmatic foundations, e.g. monochromatic white canvases accompanied with a sophisticated count of dots or black lines that shape a mysterious illusion with their leaning.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Tina Kim Gallery, Davide Balliano 01.2017_0074
Exhibition Display: Courtesy of the artist and Tina Kim Gallery, Photo: Dario Lasagni
The majority of his paintings feature finely-balanced black lines, varying in scale and size, that construct confined visualizations, almost reminiscent of a labyrinth, in which the brush strokes’ shapes magnetize the gaze of the viewer and increase the depth of the painting. To further underline the effect of these subtle proportions, Balliano skilfully plays with the degree of psychological or intellectual profundity which is reflected in his work. Conveying a sense of perfectly constricted space, Balliano’s painting process brings out the aesthetics of equal proportions on canvas. By paying attention to his visual depictions, a remarkable sense of balance is transmitted to the viewer’s eyes and mind enabling the audience to reach a state of aesthetic equilibrium. Alongside his paintings, ceramic sculptures usually complete the display highlighting the ephemeral dimension of materiality and increasing the contrast between the painted symbolisms on canvas and the physical objects in space.
Tina Kim Gallery, Davide Balliano 01.2017_0072
Exhibition Display, Courtesy of the artist and Tina Kim Gallery, Photo: Dario Lasagni
At another level, Balliano’s artistic vocabulary unveils allegoric visionary remarks that call attention to painters, such as Heinz Mack, Ufan Lee or even Dadamaino, who all have achieved a remarkably enigmatic precision in their series of symbolic optical illusion works. Probably, creating an enigma is an essential component in art making and this is carefully realised by Balliano’s imagery. His recent show at Tina Kim gallery in New York showcased some unique art pieces that embody an aesthetic quality that cannot be interpreted by language, yet it is able to leave the visitor perplexed and hooked.
In his interview with ArtVege, the artist interestingly analyses both himself and his artistic practice providing some catchy details.
Tina Kim Gallery, Davide Balliano 01.2017_0087
Exhibition Display, Courtesy of the artist and Tina Kim Gallery, Photo: Dario Lasagni
ArtVerge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work? 
 Davide Ballliano: In my painting practice I work layering plaster, gesso and various lacquers and varnishes on wood panels. My sculptures are often produced with the skillful help of makers and fabricators following technical drawings. When the process allows it, I finish the surface details and the coloring.
How would you define your work in few words?
 Sober, austere, minimal, serene, graphic and mystical.
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Untitled, 2015, plaster, gesso & lacquer on wood panel, courtesy of the artist
When is that moment you realise that an artwork is finished and ready to present it?
 When it stops crying.
Do you have a favourite book, film or painting, which inspires you? 
The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati as book, The Turin Horse of Béla Tarr as movie and far too many paintings to name them all. The first that comes to mind is a large square white monochrome of Robert Ryman in the collection of the Dia Foundation in Beacon NY.
When was the latest video you watched on social media and had an impact on your mood? Which one?
A pug on a swing I saw this morning.
Untitled, 2015, plaster, gesso & lacquer on wood panel, courtesy of the artist
 What things does your mum think about your art?
 She often seems to understand it much more than me.
Which exhibition did you visit last?
 Chung Seoyoung at Tina Kim, Alice Neel at David Zwirner and Pedro Reyes at Lisson.

What is the last thing you bought? 
A new cards holder at Muji. The old one was ripping holes in my pockets.
Is the glass half empty or half full ?
Fully full.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? 
I evolved into a brutally early morning person.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
 Between New York City (where I do live since 10 years) and the countryside of upstate New York.
Which are your plans for the near future?
I’ll be extremely busy with work until May then I’m getting married to an angel.

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