JEWELLERY DIALOGUES: BODYFURNITURES
GIAN LUCA BARTELLONE ON THE PRECIOUS SIDE OF PAPER AND COLLECTIVE EMPOWERMENT.
Interview by Christoph Ziegler
"Artis", brooch, 2018. Papier-mâché, silver, silver-plated copper, rock crystal, pearls, turquoise paste, gold leaf 22kt. Photo: Waldemar Kerschbaumer.
"Covid-19 exploded into our lives and forced us to take a good look at our modus operandi. Over the past two years I have worked closely with an artist collective: I believe unity is strength in times like these. Many artists are severely affected by a drastic decline in sales and event cancellations. The forced isolation was a moment of introspection that allowed me to work without distractions, so this particularly dark cloud did have a silver lining."
CZ: Does combining paper with precious stones and metals turn the creation into a subversive statement of what value really means: the skill to create a paper tromp-l'oeil? The selection of beautiful and valuable stones and metals? The audacity to combine the Arte Povera tradition with luxury?
GLB: I started working as a goldsmith in 1979 and then moved on to designing pieces for a company specialized in exclusive jewelry handcrafted from carefully selected materials such as gold, diamonds, and gems. By then, paper had already become my favorite material so my own creations became a combination of the rigorous methods I had been taught previously and paper as an amazingly versatile additional element.
Ester Cacciani wearing Necklace "Hybris", 2019. Papier-mâché, silver-plated copper, copper, citrine, amethysts, garnets, peridots, turquoise paste, pearls, paper, gold leaf 22kt. Photo: Waldemar Kerschbaumer.
CZ: You won the Grassi Prize in 2012, a highly reputable applied arts prize. How did you experience the Grassi Messe?
GLB: The Leipzig Grassi Messe is the only event I attended in the last two years and I found people to be even more attentive and interested than before the pandemic.
CZ: Do you think fairs will survive the pandemic crisis? How will designers approach their prospective customers in the future?
GLB: Meeting the public is always important, and technology is a great bonus in this respect. However, fairs are often expensive for artists and the benefits must be carefully evaluated.
CZ: Do you think e-commerce is the right medium for selling luxury goods, especially jewelry which needs individual fitting?
GLB: New technologies give us access to a significantly wider, albeit often less interested, audience. I think being able to touch a piece and test its wearability is a necessary condition for sale. Also, the enormous number of images and illustrations of jewelry and designs on the internet stimulate creativity on the one hand, but unfortunately also leave us vulnerable to plagiarism and fraud.
"Ruber" (2018), "Agio" and "Vertis" (2021), earrings. Photo: Waldemar Kerschbaumer.