Cardi Gallery Milan | London

Davide Balliano |
Past Present Future Tense

FRIEZE NEw York, Viewing room edition

"I don’t perceive them as black and white, specifically because I relate to my paintings very much in a sculptural manner, I consider them all to be objects and the object for me has the colour of the wood and the colour of the linen. […] A straightforward approach to colour is difficult, because mine is mainly sculptural, so the colour of my paintings is the colour of my materials."

For its participation in Frieze Viewing Room - New York Edition, Cardi Gallery is proud to debut Past Present Future Tense, the gallery’s first solo presentation of Italian contemporary artist Davide Balliano (b.1983, Turin; lives and works in New York), featuring a collection of striking paintings produced between 2015 and 2021.

The works share the artist's characteristic minimal and geometric visual language, expressed through black and white surfaces radiating a crisp perfection through the dynamic geometric composition of line and form. Yet they exceed geometric linear perfection and calculated optical effects. At a closer look, they reveal a multitude of minute scratches and scrapes within the plaster and gesso layers applied on wood or linen, or delicate drippings of plaster wash, transforming seemingly austere surfaces into highly textured ones. They straddle the fine line between painting and sculpture, for they use materials classically associated to the latter, such as plaster, white and black gesso. Even Balliano’s signature geometric elemental motifs (initially the arc, later the spiral) which reappear in his paintings in various iterations and compositions, originate from an experimentation with sculpture during the artist’s earlier practice.

Working primarily with black and white, Balliano does not reject colour, rather he operates in a continuous contemplation about colour. For him, white is a soft colour with an astounding richness of possible hues that open the door to a complex spatial exploration. The space of the canvas, which is often delineated by the application of an oak veneer for the works on wooden panels and remains pristine for the thinner, lighter works on linen, does not end the composition. It is visually continued, activating the surrounding space of the work through the presentation of a spatial equilibrium between absence and presence.

With references to icons, architecture and nature, Balliano’s work distils the artist’s ongoing confrontation with scientific and emotive concepts concerning the individual’s relationship with the macrocosm of things. Rejecting at once figuration and abstraction, and alongside them a unilateral conceptual reading and interpretation of his work, the artist points the viewer’s gaze towards something that may not be immediately visible. The perceptional and illusional element of his “ghost paintings” embrace the consideration of a larger presence.