Rosa M.Martìn i Ros
Giampaolo Babetto, the Avant-Garde Goldsmith
Excerpted from "Giampaolo Babetto Portraits",
published by "Aurum / Autohaas"

In the spring of 1995 there will be an exhibit of Giampaolo Babetto's work at Barcelona's Textil i d'Indumentària.
For the first time the Museum will welcome an avant-garde goldsmith artist. Along with the museum's collection of eighteenth century jewelry, one can admire a completely different example of the goldsmith's art, which, however avant-garde, marks a return to traditional craftsmanship that in these days of industrial production are seldom used.
Giampaolo Babetto's work is total and complete, from the design to the execution of each piece. The artist realizes his own sketches, transforming them with his own hands into material form until his design takes definitive shape. Sometimes the process of fulfilling the desired aim is long and one's powers of concentration must be so that it is not the matter that dominates the creator and leads him down a path different from his original vision. The will to transform a sketch into a jewel must dominate the material until it has moulded it into the work the artist had in mind.
Because every piece Babetto produces is his own creation from start to finish, he has the technique of a good craftsman from which he achieves results that clearly distinguish themselves from more conventional ones.
The material he prefers is gold and he admits to being captivated by it. He himself makes the metal alloy and works it to such a point as to give it the form and brightness desired. In the Eighties Babetto also began using nickel silver, and copper in addition to gold.
Copper, oxidized following the traditional procedures of the goldsmith's art and of sculpture, elicits a greenish hue that can be applied to the jewel at specific points.
Babetto also uses non-metal materials such as ebony, which he made particular use of in the Seventies, and synthetic resins, used in a subsequent period that allowed him to obtain pure, basic colours such as red, black, white and cobalt blue that entered his production in the late Eighties. Both ebony and synthetic resins, despite the colour they add to the jewel, do not hamper the luminescence of the main material, i.e. the gold that is so important to the artist.
Babetto's work is, first of all, harmony and formal beauty, which the author obtains through a very elaborate mental abstraction. In fact he starts from a mathematical principle based on geometry and numerical proportions, so that the dimensions of each piece correspond to each other numerically, without leaving anything to chance that might destroy the beauty and the perfection of the final work.
His inspirational sources are nature, viewed beneath a microscope, and architecture with its proportions.
Through this very search for proportion and harmony, we deduce how Palladio's work, geographically close to the artist, who lives in the Veneto, might be a source of abstract and non-formal inspiration. For Babetto, his jewels are, internally, empty architectural spaces, while externally, sculptural spaces provided with volume.
According to this concept, the importance of both architectural abstraction and nature's microscopic reality in his work seems quite clear. In his geometrical production, he had one only source of figurative inspiration, at the beginning of the Nineties: the frescoes of Certosa of Galluzzo painted by Pontormo (Jacopo Carrucci, 1494-1556).
What really interests him in these frescoes is the harmony that characterizes them as a whole, the very harmony that he pursues in all of his own works.
His inspiration is not drawn from the principal scenes, but from secondary, minor characters of the representation: the figure of an angel, for example, that Babetto reinterprets, giving them a geometric form in gold. Sometimes it is only a female figure's arm, which he changes into a brooch, giving a reinterpretation in the golden fold of her sleeve; at other times, the leaves of a branch become the inspiration for a ring.
Babetto does not consider his jewels to be static works. He makes them to be worn. Only in this way can these pieces, brought from preliminary sketch to their ultimate form, take on their true dimension.
The true essence of Babetto's jewels, however, can be grasped not only by wearing them, but also by considering them statically in the abstract context of the work of art, as we will be able to see at the Museu Textil i d'Indumentària very soon.

Peter Baum
Excerpted from "Giampaolo Babetto Portraits",
published by "Aurum / Autohaas"

Considering a phenomenon such as the creation of a jewel in relation to other disciplines of the figurative arts illuminates what we mean today by art and culture. Under practical circumstances, with respect to the problems we would have to face, there would be no sense in making a distinction, based on orthodox criteria, between the applied and liberal arts. What really matters is only and exclusively the quality of the artistic transposition, the suitability of the materials used, the relationship of formal tension and those innovative touches linked with self-expression, which confer on a particular work the fluidity, the originality, and the thing we still continue to describe by using that old-fashioned term "aura". The highly aesthetic feature that the Italian jewelry designer, Giampaolo Babetto, gives his creations of compact, scaled-down dimensions, bases itself on a reductive use of elementary geometric forms and on a relationship to materials and (three-dimensional) proportions marked by concepts related to space and architecture. Babetto forms the jewel using a overall creative view. In his numerous drawings the Paduan designer creates and develops his ideas and designs in order to make simple but elegant objects. In the rigorous logic of their forms they exclude any possibility of serving as decoration or simple amusement.
For Babetto what is important is the homogeneous interaction between inside and outside, the presence of gold wrought in such a way that the artist, through measured use, creates a discreet effect with it. This material is difficult and onerous to work, but at the same time, noble and seductive (together with ebony, pigments, and synthetic resins). The more intense, and to a certain extent the more alive, it becomes, the more austere and rigorous the workmanship required to transforms it into simple and clear-cut forms. If the qualities of gold, as in Babetto's case, convey above all an inwardness, yet manifest in their concrete confrontation with the exterior, the concepts of weight and density, we therefore witness the birth of a dialogue, inherent in the work itself, that transcends the dialectic aspect of the material and reveals all aspects of creative activity, by showing it as a touchstone for recognizing rational and emotional acts, for the renunciation of unexplored possibilities. The retrospective exhibit of Babetto's work, being held at Ingolstadt's Museum für Konkrete Kunst, in Linz's Neue Galerie (Museum Wolfgang Gurlitt), and in Barcelona's Museu Textil i d'Indumentària, reveals an independent artist of international stature and ahead of his time, who possesses a serene relationship with tradition.
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