Twelve pieces, four artists, three colours and One Great Opus: this is The Alchemical Egg. An exhibition investigating the three stages of alchemical knowledge, interpreted by two goldsmiths and two enamellers. Curated by Nichka Marobin, with the collaboration of Hannah Gallery (Klimt02) and first presented in Barcelona on the occasion of JOYA Barcelona Art Jewellery Fair in October 2017, this group show is hosted today in Paris by galerie LA Joaillerie par Mazlo and association Arketip.
Coming across the alchemical egg is gliding into the Arcana Artis, following the egg is diving into the Great Opus.
The study of Ars Magna, practiced throughout Europe, Egypt and Asia, arrived in Western Europe by the translation of an Arabian manuscript and, from that moment, as an underground river, the interest for this philosophical knowledge and practice never faded.
A search of knowledge, a millennial tradition, a proto-science, a discovery of the self; a quest of immortality through the creation and discovery of the Philosophical stone and the transmutation of the matter; an embryonic stage of chemistry: a discipline considered so obscure to be practiced in secret; a sort of witchcraft and one of the key for the recognition of the self, according to Jung: these are only few of the aspects related to Alchemy.
Chēmeía, this was the ancient Greek term for “alloying”, was allegedly considered as the practice for the transmutation of metals in gold, but the final aim was reaching knowledge, gnosis, in complete harmonious union with Nature. The study of Alchemy, through its three stages of knowledge and the concoction of elements, transmuted the matter using fire as the main media of transition: we focused on these passages to enlighten the works of the four contemporary jewellers called to showcase their own quest of the philosopher’s stone.
By following the three stages of nigredo, albedo and rubedo, we wanted to set in our contemporaneity the alchemical cognitive path through the use of fire, metals and enamels in order to see how the Artists’ intervention changes the status of the matter by concocting, dissolving, separating, distilling, purifying, fixing. This interpolation, made by the Artists-Alchemists, tends in one hand to pulverize Time, but, on the other hand, to fix it in a tangible piece.
How does humankind (and Artists in particular) gain a growing intervention in matter? And this intervention on the inner nature of the matter made by the Artist/Alchemist could be contemplated as an intervention on temporality? Does the Alchemist (and the Artist in our case) want to replace Time? And this concept of pulverization of Time is not an anticipation of what is the essential ideology of the modern world? Do we have Homo Faber first or the Alchemist?
All our questions are hints of something that we cannot seize entirely, as it happens for the works of Jheronymus Bosch. Everything related to him seems to be an enigma: the visions, the hells, the delights; the monsters, the men; his life emerges from the very few records found in historical archives, able to trace his movements; his works are always in discussion, both under the aspect of chronology, or under the aspect of the attribution; his oeuvres, again, never cease to emanate their spell and their fascination and we still do not know how it was that a King like Philip II of Spain loved Bosch’s paintings so much to collect them in large number.
That obscure secrecy, painted in veils of light and shadow, almost clear to be described, but far away to be easily decoded, has been clarified along the years through some reading keys, and the strict order of his triptychs has been revealed, even if in all the scenes a center seems always being lacking.
Many have been the aspects that influenced Bosch’s oeuvre, but the most intriguing one, according to us, was the one related to Alchemy. Bosch disseminated his works of eggs, shells, spheres: through a forest of symbols, these elements seem to be related to Alchemy and the emblem of the egg, considered as the Alchemical vessel, emerges from the panels.
Thus, the Alchemical Egg is the beginning - ab ovo - and the end of our journey, recalling the circularity of time and matter.
Nichka Marobin, curator.
Amador Bertomeu & Leo Caballero, gallerists @Hannah Gallery, Barcelona.
Aurélie Guillaume (Canada)
Gigi Mariani (Italie)
Tore Svensson (Suède)
Wendy McAllister (États-Unis)
Aurélie Guillaume, 1990, born in Montréal, Québec. A French Canadian jeweler, enamelist and illustrator. After completing her diploma at École de Joaillerie de Montréal, she went on to pursue her BFA at NSCAD University where she majored in jewellery design and metalsmithing. Upon graduating, her work was selected as the winner of L.A. Pai Gallery's 12th National student jewellery competition in Canada and was shortlisted for the BKV Prize in Germany.
Aurélie's work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally throughout North America and Europe and has recently been acquired by the Enamel Arts Foundation in Los Angeles, California, as part of their permanent collection. She is now residing and working in Chicago at the Lillstreet Art Center as the artist in residence until the end of the summer 2017.
My work celebrates the history of enamelling and its longstanding tradition of storytelling dating back most notably to the Byzantine era, where enamelling was used to depict religious icons. Using these traditional techniques, my work revives the medium through a contemporary context fuelled by street art, comics, pop art and counter culture. Employing a combination of jewellery techniques and illustration, my work mixes high and low art, while transporting viewers into a world more colourful and dreamlike than our own. Through the process of enamelling, my illustrations transcend the two-dimensional realm of paper and are given new life in the physical world as wearable objects. With this work, I am reviving the traditions of enamelling, as well as bringing sculpture and illustration into the context of contemporary jewellery.
Gigi Mariani, born 1957 in Modena, Italy. In 1983 finished his apprenticeship at a Goldsmith studio. Open his own studio in 1985. Awarded in several international competitions between 2011 and 2015, his works can be found in international Museums, Foundations and Private collections.
I have always been fascinated by the infinite potential that metals offer and the opportunity of transforming their original properties and aspect in order to stretch the scope of what can be achieved. My work is based on spontaneity and instinct. I try to transfer everyday emotions into my jewellery in an impulsive way. This method allows me to develop works that are unique and sculptural. I endeavor to use the same sort of approach as I do when painting and often treat the surface of the metal as a canvas. This instinctive approach is counteracted by the precise, geometric forms that I use, whereby everything seems to be brought back into place.
Tore Svensson, born 1948 in Alfta, Sweden, studied first at the art-school in Gävle and graduated in 1978 at HDK School of Design and Craft, Gothenburg. From 1989 to 1996 he was lecturer at HDK and afterwards he worked as professor for two years at the Jewellery department. His work includes jewellery and objects and is presented in private and public collections as well as in museums and all over the world. He is a recipient of several awards, among others from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee and the Herbert Hofmann Prize.
I have been working the past 20 years within the geometric field with my jewellery. The projects I work with often stretches over a long period of time. A new project often emerges from an ongoing one. The beginning and the end of a project might be difficult to discern. The series consists of small displacements that changes expression and content.
Wendy McAllister’s sculptural enameled jewelry has been exhibited internationally at galleries, art fairs, and museums including KLIMT02 Gallery (Barcelona, Spain), Charon Kransen Arts at SOFA Chicago, SOFA NY, and SOFA Santa Fe, SIERAAD Jewellery Art Fair (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Shanghai Jewelry Design Center (Shanghai, China), the National Ornamental Metal Museum (Memphis, TN), and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design (Charlotte, N.C., USA). She received a BFA in Ceramics from George Washington University and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Jewelry with Honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
In the natural world, the vibrant exuberance of enticing and often forbidding forms, all with an endless array of textures, clashing colors, and underlying geometry, excites me even as I struggle to accept their impermanence.
Nichka Marobin is a Dutch and Flemish art historian. She graduated at the faculty of letters of Padova (Italy) with a dissertation on Renaissance ornament prints from 1500 to 1550 in Germany and the Low Lands, focusing on the migration of forms, themes and styles on the engravings of Cornelis Bos, Cornelis Floris II, Lucas van Leyden and the German Little Masters.
In 2011 she founded The Morning Bark, a blogazette on arts and humanities, where she posts about arts with a multidisciplinary path, including fine arts, books, fashion and contemporary jewellery. In 2014 she started her project called Les Métissages developing the concept of migration of forms and ideas by juxtaposing contemporary jewellery and fashion creations: by matching old and new fashion creations with contemporary jewellery, the life of forms surfaces, testifying its restless existence and enhancing both these forms of Art. In 2015 she curated the exhibition Les Métissages: a new grammar of beauty at JOYA BARCELONA, exposing at Arts Santa Mónica Barcelona and giving life to four métissages between eight artists among contemporary jewelers and fashion designers from Italy, Japan, Australia, Hungary, The Netherlands, Spain and Taiwan.
She is a contributor of Art Jewellery Forum, a worldwide platform for contemporary jewellery and member of AJF Ambassador Program for contemporary jewellery in Italy; from 2009 she is active member of AGC the Italian association for contemporary jewellery.
Her blogazette, The Morning Bark, is one of the official media partners of JOYA Barcelona, the international contemporary jewellery fair and Gioielli in Fermento, an international contemporary jewellery contest.
She is a passionate collector of contemporary jewellery.