Artist Davide Balliano Dives Deep Into His Practice

Born in Turin, Italy in 1983, the artist whose work represents the erotic aspects of the creating and destroying cycle sees inspiration in a loving yet ferocious system controlled by the rules of relationship. Specializing in paintings and sculptures portrayed in a minimalists style of largely geometric shapes, he shys away from comercial creativity and delves deep into his practice where the weight of time and  the dimension of its body, especially in dialogue with architecture, sculpture and catholic iconography, are the basement of his visual thoughts

1.) Briefly describe how you came to know that you wanted to be an artist. 

I always wanted to be an artist in a way or another. It took me very little to understand that I would do miserably in the realm of commercial creativity, so right after school I felt I didn’t have much of a choice rather than diving deep into his practice where the weight of time, the dimension of its body, the specially in dialogue with architecture, sculpture and catholic iconography, are the basement of my visual thoughts

2.) Having been born in and studied in Italy, to what degree does your work give reference to your homeland, or quite frankly, even New York? 

I don’t feel my work referencing neither my background or my current surroundings. My work seems to be about the erotic aspects of the creating and destroying cycle that contains and controls us. A loving and yet ferocious system controlled by the rules of relationship that, if too big to be understood, can be naively portrait. Or at least I try, from my minuscule point of view. As a matter of roots though, I know that the decadent layering of the centuries that is so evident in Italy is part of my way of looking at things. The weight of time, the dimension of its body, specially in dialogue with architecture, sculpture and catholic iconography, are the basement of my visual thoughts. New York as well, with its hysteric rhythms and monumentality, cannot be foreigner to the nature of my work.

3.) When brainstorming for new ideas, how do you start your creative process? 

I don’t. I follow it, I jump on it as I would on a moving train. My work seems to have its own identity and life. I often feel that my role consists merely in scraping off the unnecessary and the redundant, trying to bring to the surface the true nature of the work as it wants to be perceived. Kind of like tuning an instrument or trying to understand why an infant keeps crying. My work comes from the work itself, from the practice of it. It’s like a heavy rock ball that must kept in movement. Once stopped, to get it going again it’s atrocious.

4.) From where do you derive your artistic tastes and influences for your projects? 

I think that the core of any artist’s sensibility is received and digested through time, all way back to childhood and before memory occurs. That builds that subconscious layer that we don’t control and that shapes the nature and identity of our language as artists. Once that’s in place, I think it’s just a matter of keep feeding that vain and polishing the outpouring of it. I read a lot, I listen to a lot of spoken material, and I look a lot at my surroundings, at images, movies.. I consume a nauseating amount of art and, as everyone (specially in New York), I’m surrounded by architecture, always, everywhere. Overwhelming, overpowering, immortal architecture.

5.) What do you want people to experience when they encounter the work? 

I would be happy to know that my work is approached as something familiar, even at first sight.  As something that is known, recognized rather than understood. I’d like it to inspire equally a certain amount of fear and confusion, as well as innocence, serenity, balance and peace. Kind of wild nature, a big animal that could bite you but won’t, a deep starry sky or gothic and brutal architecture. Proportion and weight. I’d love these two notion to get across, somehow gracefully and meaningfully.

6.) As an artist that embraces minimalism, what are your thoughts on the minimalist movement? How has it evolved since its inception in the 1960s and early 70s? Please explain some of the influences it has had on your work. 

The influence of Minimalism on my work is tremendous but I don’t think that is the original source of my need for a beautiful solution to a thought. I think that has more to do with the tendency of human behavior of falling into patterns, and the fact that, to me, a simple and balanced movement will always defy time more truthfully, compared to an over laborious and complicated one. Silence is timeless, while noise (and I don’t mean noise in a derogatory way..) must be the description of an instant. It’s implosive versus explosive, inward rather than outward, a vertical dive contrary to a spectacular jump. I don’t think that I can add anything relevant on the matter of analysis of the minimalist movement. So much has been said and written by scholars far more brilliant and prepared than me. I can only thank and bow, recognizing that discovering how deep and heartbreaking can be abstraction through geometry has been an unmatched joy in the development of my language. It represented the confirmation that something as meaningful and beautiful as nature made, can be thought and done by men. It’s evolution at its best. A dialogue with the sublime.

I adore all artists recognized under the Minimalist umbrella, but my heart is with the more romantic ones – Ryman, Martin, Andre, Judd.

7.) How about a bit of something personal. When you’re not working on your art, how do you like to spend your free time? Where do you like to go? What music do you listen to? What are your favorite social causes? 

I work a lot every day, so I don’t have that much free time. When I do, I mainly desire to enjoy the company of my lovely wife and friends, specially around a table where alcoholic beverages are served and smoking is allowed. We enjoy romantic walks in Central Park or around Brooklyn, visiting museums (galleries don’t get to be included in the free-time section..) and we do go often to the movie theatre.

I listen to all music since for many years I listened almost exclusively to punk rock and its derivates. Music influences tremendously my mood so, depending from my state, I listen to all sorts of things from Black Breath to Arvo Part, from Fabrizio De Andre’ to Om, Tame Impala to Philip Glass, Swans, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and so on. To give you an example of how much I have still to catch up, just last week I really and properly listened to the Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon and I’m still speechless.

As far as social causes go, I must say that my involvement is to say the least embarrassing. It’s time for action and shamefully I don’t do anything rather than being informed, donate and support, and express my opinions at any given occasion. Being an immigrant myself I think that immigration and asylum seekers rights is something I’m particularly sensible too, but we live in reactionary times so the rise of fascism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and nationalism it’s something we should all be aware of. I think it can all be traced to economic injustice and the heritage of slavery and colonialism, so as much as possible we should all do what we can to erase barriers and borders and eradicate racial and economical privilege.

8.) If you could take a vacation to any place in the world, where would it be? 

Right now, Mexico.

9.) Name three people who have had the most influence on your creative career and briefly describe why. 

The monks of  the Monastery of Bose in the north west of Italy, whom I grew up very close to, for grounding in my heart the fascination for a life of love and work, lived with soberly and elegance under the light of true meaning. Lino Breda and Michele Badino (the architect of the monastery) where the two most significant figures for me, but the all community counts as a unique entity in my mind.  My parents for supporting me unconditionally and believing fearlessly that a life in art is worth pursuing. My beloved wife Maria Sprowls, brilliant artist on her own, for the constant support, advice, balance, joy and love that guarantees I have the mental balance needed to focus on work.

10.) What are you currently working on and what can we expect to see from you in the future? 

Currently, I’m finishing up the paintings for the fall art fairs (Expo Chicago, Frieze London, Fiac, Artissima, Miami etc etc) and I’m about to start the works for my spring 2018 solo show at the Marca Museum in Catanzaro, Italy. I’m gathering material for the book that will be published in the same occasion, and I’m exploring new material and fabrications for a group of upcoming sculptures. Hopefully the result will be something unexpected and beautiful.



Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson is a writer, web designer and former senior editor for ODDA magazine, a glossy 500+ page high fashion magazine. In addition to his work for ODDA, he is also a freelance writer for LAB A4 and a creative director for various projects across various industries where he specializes in branding, identity and visual strategy. He is also the founding editor of PLOY.

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