"The great strength of compassion and social involvement, not necessarily in a political sense, led Balzi towards a vigorous painting, in which he shows environments in which he introduces the human being, arriving at the demonstration of the essential character of situations. In many cases he inserts the human figure in a rather expressive isolation, in scenarios full of dark colours . These environments also mark the spirit of the images that must be contemplated."
Wolfgang Pfeiffer (1912-2003), museologist, historian and art critic. Art director of MAC-USP( Modern Art Museum of Sao Paulo University) from 1978 until 1982.
“He is a remarkable painter, in whose work it is evident that doing easy, solved with efficacy and simplicity that always denotes a large and fruitful apprenticeship. Its oils are splendid, in loose colours that respond to a very pictorial vision. Not least are his drawings, with very sensitive, technically perfect features.”
Santos Torroella (1914-2002), art critic and Spanish art professor.
Juan J. Balzi was born into a family of artists: His father, a former soldier, is originally from Pescia, Italy, his mother, of Spanish origin, is a pianist and director of a music conservatory; the elder sister is the renowned pianist and musicologist Beatriz Balzi. However, it will be his uncle, architect and painter Vanni Balzi, to push him to enter, at the age of 14, at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires , where he will become a colleague, among others, of Ricardo Dagá, Rómulo Maccio, Julio Le Parc. He graduated with the title of Professor of Design and Technician in Artistic Advertising.
In 1958, hired by the Grant Advertising agency as "Art Director", he moved to Brazil. Thus began a career that led him to work in the most famous advertising multinationals until he became "Creative Director" in 1975, when he decided to abandon advertising to devote himself exclusively to painting. Important in this decision, the support of his wife, Marina Thiel Grillo, with whom he married in São Paulo.
In 1964, the couple moved to Italy. In Milan, at the Accademia di Brera , Balzi completed the studies he needed to validate his qualification and met Carlo Carrà , whose advice will be precious for his artistic maturation. His meetings with Salvador Dalì in Barcelona, the city where the Balzi family lived from 1968 to 1987, will also be important . This is the period of greatest artistic activity. In which he realizes countless exhibitions and participates in various events, among which, the 1st Congress of Latin American Artists exhibition. Held at the Gaudí Gallery , this was probably the most important.
In 1987, Balzi returned to Brazil, São Paulo, and dedicated himself to the creation of painting and graffiti workshops for adolescents in need of the ABC Paulista (satellite city of Sao Paulo). The result of this experience is realised in the book Meninos de Arte , launched by the Nova Alexandria publishing house , in which he shows that it is possible to make art with very few resources, as long as you have the main element, inspiration. In addition to the aesthetic recovery of various community centres of the great ABC and the cultural and moral redemption of hundreds of young people, working with them enormously influences the way in which Balzi intervenes in the images of the media, giving rise to a concept that he himself calls "pichação gráfica ".
Balzi is the author of about 500 oil paintings and countless drawings. Equally fruitful is his work as an illustrator: in Barcelona he illustrated all the works of Baltasar Gracián, José Martí and Domingos Facundo Sarmiento and, returning to São Paulo, he illustrated about 50 books for publishing houses in São Paulo.
Balzi passed away in September 2017, in São Paulo, Brazil.