Dirimart is delighted to present Culebra, an exhibition of recent paintings of New York-based artist Davide Balliano. Opening on Thursday May 25th, the show marks the artist’s first solo presentation of his work in Istanbul.
Balliano’s austere research operates on a cosmos of calculated shapes, halved arches and spirals, bearing traces of baroque and modernist architecture. Sourcing from detailed geometrical constructions, his paintings in plaster and gesso on wood, evolve through progressive alterations, erosions, and weathering of the surface, carrying the work to the third dimension on the verge of sculpture. The result is a constellation of dynamic compositions, mapping the complex system that surrounds and contains us, or at least the artist’s sketch of his impression of it.
However, recently, Balliano’s attention shifted inwards, focusing on the dynamics that regulate our nature and identity as humans, both in the historical context of our time and in relation to the surrounding universe. A perceptive illusion is introduced to its vocabulary: vibrating motion of wavy torrents, resembling the sinuous line of a heartbeat, the hypnotic drafting of a seismograph or the truth revealing echoes of a polygraph test.
In the body of work exhibited at the show, a kind of duality imposes itself on the viewers. A harmony of opposites, a contrasted equilibrium between the machine-like perfection of geometry and the guttural violence of scarred surface. The duality can also be characterized as a staring contest between the surgical coldness of the architectural elements, and the organic warmth of dripping and melting; a dialogue between the rationality of social dynamics and the subconscious demands of our erotic or violent impulses.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from Curzio Malaparte’s controversial novel Kaputt. There culebra, Spanish for “serpent,” is a magic word capable of summoning ghosts but also a sensual and seductive one, containing both the fear and fascination for mysteries of the unknown: “If my memory does not fail me,” pursued Westmann with a cruel smile, “Anthony calls Cleopatra…” “For God’s sake, be silent!” shouted de Foxa. “Don’t speak that word aloud. It is a terrible word that must be spoken thus in a low voice…” and scarcely moving his lips, he whispered, “Culebra. Mi culebra del antiguo Nilo.”