Lara - Vinca Masini
Giampaolo Babetto
Excerpted from "Geometries of jewels", published by "Cicero"




It seems to me that Giampaolo Babetto (whom I haven't yet met in person) is among the most accomplished persons whose work I have encountered.
He has always followed his own path, with passion, with interest, with great self-confidence, but always without anxiety, without needing to frantically try to grasp the meaning of "the new" – if not out of a personal maturity, then out of an expression inherent in his ability to "be inside" his culture.
Living in the outskirts of Padua and coming in contact with Palladio's works (and even studying architecture at first) has given him a sense of "measure," of " proportion," a sense of "number," as he puts it.
Furthermore, in Padua in the Sixties, when he started his work in the field of jewelry "research," the exponents of the "N Group" were among the most active members of the avant-garde in the field at that time, with particular interest in planned and kinetic art.
His art has developed from the avant-garde of that era into something like a spontaneous need, through a period of experimentation more independent and manual (he says he gave up his architectural studies out of his need to work with his own hands); and his school in Padua (which has always given voice to the most distinguished exponents of the art and craft of the jewel – one thinks of Pinton's teaching, whose professorship Babetto inherited) was, along with his Academy, the arena of his technical development.
I have mentioned the "experimentation" in his encounters with avant-garde and contemporary artistic movements, because in Babetto's work any application of his knowledge and learning never occurs as a retrospective, pedantic citation, but as a very personal rendering of a cultural fact, realized in the very process of designing, that first of all takes into consideration his direct relationship to his materials, technique, and training.
There is an exemplary essay on his work by Germano Celant, in which Babetto's entire journey from his earliest works to those of the Nineties is retraced, a journey in which he "studied" art history through his own creations, filtering it into the flow of energy he is able to embody from within the parameters of his works. Thanks to this very force of concentration, these works are something "other" than sculpture, that is taken, I would say, for granted.
In addition to his relationship to his materials (gold, above all, which he melts down in a very personal manner so as to transform it into pictorial matter, such as when, using other metals for colour gradations, he hints at the subtle effects of Calderara; gold that is transformed into foil and then beaten down until reduced to thin elastic sheets with a vibrating, extremely sensitive surface, streaked with light), his subsequent use of colour, which often surrounds the inner space of his pieces (since it is almost always about inner space, for Babetto uses his metal foils to create little architectural structures), gives them a tension that recalls Anish Kapoor's Void Fields, those "blue spaces" that seem also to hint at the negative energy of black holes (but doesn't his blue also remind us of Yves Klein?).
And more recently, the explosion of these spaces from the inside to the outside, with the same power by which the Deconstructivist movement in architecture demolishes, almost at random, the formations of Russian Constructivism, forming sharp edges and walls that disregard the right angle, perhaps (and why not?) according to what we call the law of catastrophe...
And in his retrospective and rather nomadic view of art history (following the terms of our Post-Modern era), almost overturning his intentionally structured nature and grasping the meaning of the "opposite," in his love of acid colours, his dreamy freedom of form, in the hallucinatory lighting of Pontormo's Mannerism, which he will return to in his nomadic way (for even Mannerism was a nomadic age) by way of the Certosa frescoes of Galluzzo in Florence (the extraordinarily precarious balance of the boy on the ladder), but also by way of the villa in Poggio a Caiano (with the little faun whose leg extends along an arch on the wall), and the angels...
Babetto, in a manner reminiscent of Pontormo, conducts an inquiry made of fragments, of ephemeral and frayed surface outlines, using the clearest gold, softly opaque, finely wrought, in search of a passionate inner vibration.


Florian Hufnagl
The Dance of the Stars
Excerpted from "Geometries of jewels", published by "Cicero"




In ancient times the celestial bodies represented, in art and theory, the pure law of mathematical rationality and proportions, and more simply, according to the prevailing concepts of the time, the order of the heavens. While in art these fundamental rules have been expressed in the ideal beauty of the work, there is no internationally-renowned artist of the contemporary jewel who has devoted himself as much as Giampaolo Babetto to an aesthetic of such wide-ranging ambition. Nobody else is so directly and concretely associated with those historical epochs that have bequeathed the ideals of "the Renaissance of contemporary art." It is almost impossible to avoid the repetition of this language in Babetto's inquiry, just as it is quite impossible to distance oneself from the existing fusion of harmony and form, utility and wholeness, profusely present in his jewels. Far beyond the traditional definitions that lie behind artistic craftsmanship, Babetto's works reflect an elaborate aesthetic concept that relies on dialogue, on the intertwining and interpenetration of artistic genres. Genres and disciplines we love to see separated. But even a Cellini presents himself as a master of figurative arts, from the smallest artistic "jewel" to the most massive sculpture, and at the same time, his name goes down in history along with painters and sculptors. It is well-known that Giampaolo Babetto is intensively concerned with the Renaissance and with Mannerism. In his opinion architecture and sculpture play an undoubtedly prominent role, in particular the figure of Andrea Palladio. Number and measure impose their order – which in the architect's opinion are the guarantee of absolute beauty and perfection – and dominate the geometrically rigorous models of Babetto's forms. Even if a building by Palladio seems to be more complicated under closer introspection – and is adapted in his conception of proportion to the avant-garde, for instance, of the music of his age – the elective affinity Babetto shares with him remains an essential basis of his sensibility and shows itself clearly in the luminous and self-contained relationship of its parts, in its balanced synthesis. Precious metal is conceived of as a body in space – with variations – like a mini-architecture with an effect comparable to sculpture. We can see references to Ghiberti, Bellini or perhaps even Masaccio, whose composition of space contains elements that Babetto enlivens as scenic elements, as pars pro toto. These communicate the underlying message, that is – as a final consequence and sublime abstraction – the theme: man and universe.
< @ >