D.W.C. Daily Life - Artist Aldo Balding


Born in Southsea in 1960 and studied for a Diploma in Illustration at Southampton College. Aldo now lives in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Beginning his career as a freelance illustrator his work appeared in and on the front covers of numerous magazines including the Sunday Times Culture Magazine, TV Times and Punch. Aldo is now a recognized and successful figurative and portrait artist.


REVIEW: Tim Green, August 2008 - London
Leonardo DaVinci said: “to be a good painter is to paint two main things: men and the working of man’s mind: the first is the easier of the two.” It’s a quote that has always resonated with Aldo. He admits to being a restless painter, never entirely happy with his work – and always striving to improve his technique.


It’s tempting for us, the viewers, to wonder where these improvements can be made, such is Aldo’s apparent mastery of his art. Every one of his exquisitely mysterious vignettes is masterfully realized. For example, in a recent piece titled “Odessey VI” two figures each at a different angle to the viewer, creased jackets throwing awkward shadows across the early evening town square, is flawless.

  
We shouldn’t be surprised. For all the modesty of Aldo, this is a painter who has dedicated his adult life to mastering the technical challenges of figurative art. Working as a storyboard illustrator for advertising agencies, he developed a passion for anatomy and honed his craft until he could draw the human form effortlessly from any angle. There was a simple commercial reason for this – if you can draw people convincingly without the need for models, it’s cheaper. But the discipline also appealed to Aldo’s aesthetic curiosity.

  
 Today, as a full time painter choosing his subjects, Aldo remains dedicated to the human form. But he puts his formal virtuosity at the service of human drama. Virtually all of his paintings buzz with narrative possibilities. Who are the three inscrutable men in Conversation III? What are they planning? What have they just done? What are they going to do? And what about the couple in The Early Hours? Are they lovers? If so, is their affair bursting into life or fracturing?


Aldo is proud to admit he’s in the storytelling business, even if he lets us fill in the gaps. “I always try to put an element of mystery in my work,” he says. “You can suggest so much in a gesture, in the way someone stands. I like narrative in painting, because it casts the viewer into a voyeuristic role.”


 The pull of suggested narrative explains why so many of the figures in Aldo’s work have their backs to us. “When a person is face-on, it’s a portrait, and the mystique is gone,” explains Aldo. Many of these backs belong, of course, to the be-suited men that appear throughout the artist’s work. The prevalence of so many jackets and ties has promoted some to describe Aldo’s work as nostalgic. This is something he’s keen to move away from. “I prefer to think of the scenes I depict as timeless. They are little dramas that could be from any era.”


But the suits will remain. Simply, Aldo loves the formal challenge posed by all those silken creases. Indeed, he’s recently applied himself to improving the way he renders the kind of sharp and soft edges we see in a painting such as the aforementioned Osyssey VI. It might sound highly pedantic to the rest of us – edges? – but this dedication to detail is what makes Aldo such a terrific craftsman. And this collection of formally superb and profoundly mysterious paintings proves it yet again.

  

 
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