Rosalba Balsamo: Less is More

Exhibition  /  20 Apr 2012  -  15 Jun 2012
Published: 13.04.2012
Antonella Vilanova Gallery
Antonella Vilanova

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(...) For her new line Balsamo launches her fascination for the world of mechanics; she perceived in the gaskets of the cylinder head - that she accidentally discovered in a garage- the possibility of having another significance. (...)

Artist list

Rosalba Balsamo

Less is more. Talking about pure and versatile forms 

A dialogue between the designer Rosalba Balsamo and Paola Bortolotti 

Meeting a designer who in not an architect, that is a pleasant surprise; because it is an event which offers a different approach, and words become less obvious when you have the chance to talk with an artist like Rosalba Balsamo. Born in Naples, an artist and designer who has participated in relevant exhibitions and obtained important awards, Balsamo received a humanistic education and studied painting techniques. She shows her special abilities in interpreting forms in space. After working for three years in the studio of the sculptor Nunzio - celebrated representative of the New Roman School - she became particularly gifted in creating plastic forms, and perceptively able to synthesize from the raw material objects with pure, abstract forms. “While working with Nunzio I have started designing pieces of jewelry, and furniture, too, which certainly were more similar to pieces of sculpture than to functional objects. As it is demonstrated by the sculpture I called ‘La camera chiara’ that I created in 2003 and I will present again in the new Villanova Gallery, together with the objects called ‘Tavolini’ and the new line of jewels”. The opportunity to appreciate the novelties in Balsamo’s creativeness, is ‘Less is more’, at the exhibition in the Ricasoli Palace on the river Arno, which from April 20th is going to be the new, main residence of the Villanova Gallery. “ ‘La camera chiara’ was a very difficult object to design: it looks like a huge origami and shares its outward fragility. When I created this piece, my idea was to build an environment, a sculpture to live in the space, and that could simulate a piece of furniture; it was also conceived to be used in many different ways”. That piece of art has in a way marked the style which Balsamo also gave to her jewels. Its white and smooth surfaces capture the light and rebound it, evocating the jewels that are shaped in precious metals and structured in a rational, pure style. This artist - designer is capable of transposing plastic shapes into the jewels, creating an harmonic relation with the body, even within her peculiar essentiality. These characteristics can be found in the ‘Consolle’ whose form is repeated in the smaller elements of some of her necklaces she calls ‘breastplates’; such an unusual definition includes both that part of the body they lay on and a detail of the ancient armors. 

For her new line Balsamo launches her fascination for the world of mechanics; she perceived in the gaskets of the cylinder head - that she accidentally discovered in a garage- the possibility of having another significance. “I was bewitched by those industrial forms and I made them mine: soon I started to experiment some bronze prototypes, chemically cut, in order to test how adaptable and wearable they could be”. Now it is clear where those mysterious shapes come from: in fact at first sight they my mind identified their connection with chemical formula and their molecular modulation; so close these forms are to the genetic codes. “These forms are really connected in a sequence, but at the same time they can exist as separate objects: they are so versatile that they can become collars, bracelets or pendants and rings, on a small scale”. The materials they are made of range from the simple and conceptual aesthetics of the black rubber to the precious silver, burnished and glazed, and that makes the difference in the number of pieces produced. The names given to this kind of ‘ornaments’ play perhaps on the double meaning - in Italian - of the verb to decorate (guarnire), which is also used to translate the verb to complete and to serve for a better functionality. They refer to the cylinder heads for which the industrial elements are made, like X500 or X2000, while their flat and smooth silhouettes appear to be designed with elegance, simplicity and style. 

Rosalba Balsamo belongs to that generation which is in between the great masters of design and the younger creative people who like inventing playful objects that imitate a more profound culture they heard about without being able to assimilate. “My generation should go towards a synthesis and a definition. My personal research also includes the archetypes but goes ahead and behind. Since today we all have to face the market difficulties, we have to understand that design can make a better life for the whole of us, it cannot be a luxury for a limited audience”.