On the occasion of the 2018 France-Israel season, gallery LA Joaillerie par Mazlo, the Robert Mazlo Endowment Fund for Art and Contemporary Jewelry and Arketip Association are pleased to host "Morphogenesis". This exhibition invites us to observe the "genesis of forms" by gathering works selected among different series created during the past years by Attai Chen and Carina Shoshtary.
Aside from a common inspiration drawn from nature and the spectacle of life, both artists share the pragmatic use of materials that already have one or more lives, foremost among which are paper for Attai Chen, and graffiti for Carina Shoshtary. The use of paper as a means of expression in the field of art jewelry has been a long-time commonplace but never had it found such a sculptural treatment as in the developments nurtured by Attai Chen. As for graffiti taken from a heavily sprayed wall, it is a rather unusual and innovative material that allows Carina Shoshtary to express her love for colours and rich textures in multifarious and distinctive ways. Each artist has thus succeeded in transmitting exceptional aesthetic, expressive and metaphorical qualities to his/her favorite material that contrast with its strictly decorative properties.
This common attraction towards plane surfaces and painting might be regarded as reminiscing of their early vocation for art and drawing, since both were originally driven by the desire to study painting. But this would reduce their approach to a purely formal exploration of the matter. In Attai Chen's and Carina Shoshtary's works, the material, through its modesty and poverty, echoes questions raised by social and environmental issues that go far beyond its sole intrinsic aesthetic qualities.
But here end the similarities between those two universes, for each of them has developed a radical and singular approach.
Described as a "prodigy of contemporary jewelry" by Glenn Adamson, Attai Chen is probably one of the most talented artists of his generation. From his very beginnings, he has been aiming to capture the passage of time through a form.
He first draw his inspiration in the inherent duality of the landscape in which he grew up. Born in Jerusalem, he was durably impressed by the sharp contrasts of the surrounding nature: on one side the mineral drought of the desert, on the other side the luxuriance of the olive groves. Here lies the origin of the muted tones, mineral ochres and dusted greens that composed his first colour palette. After he moved to Munich and then in the Bavarian countryside, his palette evoluted with hues echoing the rhythm of the seasons, which in this generous nature may resound louder than in any other landscape.
First trained in jewelry art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, it is in Munich, under the direction of Otto Künzli that he really began to include paper and other alternative and rather humble materials (wood, graphite) into the compositon of his works. He confesses however that it is impossible for him to start working from a clean new sheet of paper. The material must be used, studded with imprints, painting, stigmata, writings. All these marks of a past life that fuel his inspiration.
For it is from the angle of temporality that Attai Chen strives to capture the Nature and the living matter, to grasp their forms and cycles through their signs of growth and decay. Whatever the series, Terra Mutantica or Compounding Fractions, the artist twists the traditional and ornamental conception of jewelry inside out and back again and confronts us without any complacency to the question of the processes and mutations at work within the material, for according to him, beauty lies in this neverending movement. As an expressionist, he seeks less to seduce than to arouse emotion: for him, the material is not inert. Not the shadow of a still life here. On the contrary, the material seems to transform, to come into life right before our eyes in a constant play of decomposition and recomposition.
This point of view is well illustrated in his last series entitled Matter of Perspective, of which a few examples will also be on show. In this corpus, Attai Chen explores the urban landscape while seeking to escape the lessons of the masters of the Renaissance in terms of perspective. Here the artist attempts to reconnect with a purely empirical vision, by getting rid of any rationalization and mathematical calculation, but stirring inspiration from experience and individual perceptions.The result takes the shape of landscapes with Cubist accents, whose contours embrace the form of medallions reminiscent of dioramas, these optical and illusionists devices created in the 19th century. By adopting this principle of the open window on miniature worlds, Attai Chen obviously seeks to refer with this works to a larger history than the jewel's. For it is indeed the history of the gaze and this idea of representing the passage of time by capturing the movement which is here questionned.
Through these unbridled negotiations with matter, Attai Chen questions the validity of our aesthetic criteria and stages the relativity of the notions of beauty and preciousness. Like palimpsests, his works hide layers of lives and stories. The artist thus favors the authenticity and sincerity of a moment captured in its most trivial, even disturbing reality.
For her part, Carina Shoshtary chooses the pragmatism of a modern hunter-gatherer. In a perfect osmosis with her environment, she patiently gathers all the materials that she comes upon : shells of dried fruits or seashells, dry or driftwood, paper and especially fragments of urban graffiti.
For several years now, she has been collecting one of the main raw materials of her works, notably in Munich, on one of the few legal walls attributed by the city to street art. Like a gatherer watching for the fall of the fruit of its tree, not only does she have to wait for the fragments of these contemporary frescoes to fall but also to deal with the necessary limits imposed by the colour palettes used by the graffiti-artists. In a pointillist manner, she then reduces them into myriads of sequins, covering the surface of volumes that she shapes by using wood or steel wires.
Carina Shoshtary creates objects that look like shamanic ornaments, emanating at once a violent and mastered sensuality: here a necklace recalls the antlers of a deer, and there ear-pendants borrow their contours to the legs of a bird.
The large areas formed of glass beads in primary colours - blood-red , royal blue - contrast with the delicate colour shades of the surfaces covered with confetti.
The artist seems to suggest a skin and its reverse, to exhibit simultaneously two facets of a same body part: the epidermis and the palpitating flesh. Unless she is materializing some kind of poetic and synesthetic correspondence between psyche and colour, as underlined by the title of this series "Karma Chroma"?
Her work refers to a form of animal magic, to the intimacy of the body, to the eroticism of the unveiling, to the evocation of the matrix of forms. It seems to suggest that under the apparent varnish of culture (an urban and contemporary culture symbolized by the order of graffiti patterns) hides an underground and chaotic strength, a source of life which is nothing but the essence to creation.
Like our earth's epidermis, displaced by the invisible earth tide caused by the gravity of the Moon and Sun, the works of Carina Shoshtary and Attai Chen seem to capture a wave of organic and subterranean life escaping all logic. Their works address this essential need, rooted in every human being to adorn his/her body with a fragment of this formidable and fascinating Nature, in order to appropriate a part of its creative force, a piece of eternity.
Exhibition December 8 - 29, 2018.
Opening December 8, 4-7 pm.
Tuesday-Thursday 2-7 pm.
Saturday 11 am - 1 pm and 2 - 7 pm.
Of German and Iranian descent, Carina Shoshtary was born in 1979 in Augsburg, Germany. She trained as a goldsmith in Neugablonz, Germany, from 2001 to 2004 and studied art jewellery under Professor Otto Künzli at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich, from 2006 to 2012, graduating in 2012 as a "Meisterschüler". She has exhibited internationally in museums including the Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt, Germany, the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany, Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2013, Cheongju, Republic of Korea and the Ruthin Craft Centre, Ruthin, England. Her work is in the public collections of the Rotasa Foundation, California, USA, the Röhsska Museum, Gothenburg, Sweden, and the International Design Museum, Munich, Germany. In 2012, she was awarded the Bavarian State Prize for Emerging Designers and the Upper Bavarian Prize for Applied Arts. She was a finalist for the Sponsorship Award of the city of Munich in 2013 and the Art Jewelry Artist Award in 2016.
Born in a family of artists in 1979 in Jerusalem, Attai Chen lives and works in Munich, since 2007. In 2006, he graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and then moved to Germany, where he studied at the Academy Fine Arts in Munich under Prof. Otto Künzli and graduated in 2012.
His work is in numerous and prestigious collections including the Donna Schneier Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (USA), the Rotasa Foundation in California, the Helen Drutt Collection in Philadelphia, the Neue Sammlung in Munich, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Israel Museum of Art in Jerusalem.
Described by Glenn Adamson (critic, author, independent curator, and former director of MAD New York) as "a prodigy of contemporary jewelry", Attai Chen received an early recognition from his peers, even though he was still a student. He won the Herbert Hofmann Prize in Munich in 2010 and the Oberbayerischer Prize for Applied Arts in 2011. In 2014, he was awarded the Andy Prize for Contemporary Art, which earned him a solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.