Cutting the mirror. 12 jeweller artists. An aesthetic lexicon.

We are publishing some texts written by Maria Cristina Bergesio over the year for the catalogues of the exhibitions organised by LAO for the PREZIOSA and FLORENCE JEWELLERY WEEK. The school wishes to pay homage to the rigorous work that Maria Cristina has carried out with the passion that has always distinguished her.

All published texts are copyright protected

Introductory essay to the catalogue

“History shows us that beauty always keeps its ultimate weapon in reserve: surprise. Unexpected forms of beauty continue to spring up, shining in new constellations, even though they are not always detected immediately. For this very reason – despite all the models and tools of interpretation devised, with some success, in order to bring us closer to beauty – we can not give an exhaustive definition thereof. It would lack the essential element: creativity, that is to say the breaking of the habitual moulds and styles, with the tormenting appearance – accompanied by a thrill similar to that which is felt in a religious experience – of something new which, nevertheless, it seems that we have always known, as if it were the echo in clear of our darkest sentiments and our thoughts.”[1]

A reflection on the theme “jewellery and beauty” can be approached from various angles and on many levels of interpretation, depending on the idea of jewellery that is under consideration. Jewellery, in the sense of temporary body ornament (as opposed to tattoos and other forms of permanent bodily modification), is a complex reality for the reason that it depends on the representation of self which the individual creates and offers to others, with implications that cover a wide area, starting with the social and ending with the private.

It is their intimate relationship with the body which has, from prehistoric times, given ornaments their property of aesthetic pleasure, of complementing the figure with materials adjudged to be beautiful owing to their natural shape or particular colour. The act of decorating oneself, therefore, has in its ancient roots the pleasure of wearing the objects and, at the same time, of attracting the attention of others, of seducing them through one’s appearance. From this beginning, which is only one of the many properties of jewellery, grew the idea of ornament as embellishment, something which renders the body more handsome, gives light and colour to the face, highlights the body’s features – a slender neck, an attractive décolletage, a delicate wrist. Many of the other symbolic and distinctive properties have weakened, and today, in marketing parlance regarding jewellery, the main emphasis is on the association ‘beautiful jewellery – beautiful woman’, entrusting this equation with the transmission of a clear message of sensuality, of erotic attraction. Jewellery is therefore projected as an efficient tool which, thanks to its precious, glittering materials, makes the person who wears it unique, special.

These considerations sum up the reality of luxury and commercial jewellery, in which the value of the materials used and the respect of traditional canons are inescapable values of their aesthetic code, consolidated in time.

If, however, we enter the territory of the jewellery on show in this exhibition, we should remember that for years[2] this creative sector has been extending the boundaries of the concept of body ornament, taking it to an independent level of expression closely linked to personal artistic research on the part of its creator. The materials, the shapes, content and messages to be seen in these pieces have no connection with conformist moulds, to pre-conceived models, rules and tendencies, but instead a complete freedom of invention holds sway, challenging the established view of jewellery and remodelling it on the basis of new creative possibilities. As a consequence the fundamental relationship with the user has changed: jewellery is no longer a mere accessory, an elegant frame, but has become a significant presence which attracts attention because of its otherness. Jewellery presents itself as an autographic work, the bearer of a particular aesthetic, transfused into a wearable object after a particular relationship, a meeting, an elective affinity. To the pleasure of the creator of the work is added that of the person who wears it: “the true centre of the aesthetic experience, which is the only experience left to Man against today’s world and brought into being thanks to his powers of imagination, aesthetic pleasure offers contemporary Man an opportunity for freedom.”[3]

The 2009 Lucca Preziosa exhibition can be seen as a suggestion for interpretation of the aesthetic expression in research jewellery. To explore this highly stratified field, the exhibition has been conceived as an itinerary in which the works of the participating artists function as thematic stages associated with a concept-headword in the aesthetic dictionary. These definitions should be considered as interpretational keys, offered to the public in order to focus on some aspects of the research by these diverse artistic personalities. The selected works thus represent a particular declension of the concept of beauty. This is the reason the exhibition is set on a diachronic structure, presenting the works in a continuous sequence, following the artists’ dates of birth. In this way visitors are offered an insight into their individual, personal research, but when they look at the exhibition as a whole, they can get an overview of the metamorphosis of jewellery from the 1960s to the present, its continual openness to unexpected inspiration and aesthetic possibilities. As has happened in the visual arts, research jewellery has seen the systematic breaking down of the canons, witnessing a gradual end to the idea of beauty as absolute perfection and introducing the shadow of beauty: chaos, deformation, imperfection.

Cutting the mirror arises from a subjective selection of exempla considered significant, and aims to bring the public closer to the plurality of research jewellery’s aesthetic reality through a targeted selection of works, condensers of stimuli, which offer a true field of sensory and intellectual experience.

Enjoy it!



“It is true that in almost all known civilizations mankind is strongly attracted to the phenomena of order and symmetry seen both in themselves and in the world around them. In addition to stimulating feelings of security and equilibrium, they also take on a symbolic value, because the contrast between order and disorder, regularity and randomness, leave indelible traces in the mind.”[4]

The jewellery by maestro Mario Pinton, founder of the Padova School[5], characterized by a deep sense of measure, order and equilibrium, communicates to those who view them the founding principles of classical aesthetics. The artist has channelled compact rigour and total devotion into the search for the right shape for a piece of jewellery conceived as a structure to be worked in empathy with its function, the wearer, space and the materials used. The salient features of his youthful works, marked by archaistic figuration with Etruscan, Egyptian and Greek-influenced motifs, are summed up in the famous 1951 bracelet. A thin sheet of gilded silver in a spiral, embossed with a plant shoot, this piece already reveals his tendency towards an essentiality in forms, a founding element of his style. We can also see the important role played by embossing, which enlivens the surface, emphasises the value of the shape, the material and the light, and creates an intimate dialogue between all these elements. Around the 1960s Pinton developed an abstract lexicon, employing geometrical shapes as the basis of his compositions. He concentrated on exalting the expressive capability of the material, emphasizing the lightness of form and the luminous sensitivity of the surfaces. His mature works have linear patterns, thread-like reliefs and geometrical motifs in which the light is precisely modulated, caressing the surface, highlighting the fineness of the textures and interacting with the nielloed parts, as seen in the 1961 brooch. Another distinctive element is the use of a single precious stone, a ruby, emerald, diamond or sapphire mounted in circular, rectangular or square settings. The solitary stone gives visual organization to the composition, a fulcrum, and in addition intensifies its properties, the colour and form, imbuing them with significant structural value. Since 1959, reflections on the relationship between the body and jewellery have resulted in the so-called anatomical necklaces, which may be made of several strands of white gold, a single flat strand of gold or a hollow section in yellow gold modelled and opened with a ruby, as in the example from 1975 on show. The essential trace of gold rests lightly at the base of the neck, outlining and illuminating its shape, merging with the skin and giving the piece a calm, measured beauty.



“In the Theaetetus and the Timaeus, Plato indicates a whole series of operations analogous to the creation of the musical harmony chosen by the Pythagoreans as a model of perfect harmony: uniting on the basis of harmonious proportion, based on the analogy of the forms, surfaces and volumes”[6]

“According to the classical definition given by Vitruvius in his De Architectura, proportion is understood as the commensurability of every individual element of the work and of all the elements, by means of a determined measure or model.”[7]

Yasuki Hiramatsu, an internationally recognized master of research jewellery, has, like many other artists of his generation, played a determining role not only as a creator but also as a teacher, becoming a fundamental point of reference for the development of new generations of artists in his country. In his jewellery from the 1970s, a clearly geometrical approach to its construction is apparent. His research, aimed at finding new modes of expression in the sphere of jewellery design, expresses the desire to create a new aesthetic language from a blank slate and a reworking of forms which are essential, clear, clean and strong in their self-determination. Many of his works between 1971 and 1973 offer a formal reinvention including square or rectangular rings and bracelets and double rings. A model was established, and with its repetition sets were created, made up of rings, bracelets and brooches, or alternatively a basic model was developed into various formal variations of the same typology. Rigour and sobriety in the definition of the construction are pervasive in these works, which are born from an intimate relationship between the material and the technique: “The metals which I mainly use are also like living things, when I make a piece, I play, worry, struggle with it and encourage it.”[8] The whole process disappears, only the result is visible, radiating grace and spontaneity.

From midway through the 1970s his interest in the strictly modular concept has gradually been abandoned, and he opts instead for one-off shapes, though still geometrical, while a new level of attention emerges regarding the gold or gilded silver textures. Precisely laminated, the gold is worked to obtain specific plays of light which embellish forms that are ever more essential. The surface may be slightly granular, or the effect achieved makes the metal seem like light, crumpled paper. It sometimes brings to mind aluminium foil, clinging to and enhancing the underlying geometrical form, or in other cases it has the appearance of crêpe paper, giving the object more volume.

Mario Pinton and Yasuki Hiramatsu, belonging to the same generation but bound to two distant cultures, have in the same period written fundamental pages in the history of research jewellery with works inspired by “noble simplicity and quiet greatness”.


RHYTHM Robert Baines

“Rhythm is a general principle of the organization of experience according to the orders of time and space. As an anthropological phenomenon, it derives from the elementary division of perceptive content into forms of regularity and irregularity, of symmetry and asymmetry”.[9]

The jewellery by the Australian Robert Baines on show in this exhibition consists of abstract three-dimensional compositions produced using silver wire entirely covered in coloured powder. Space is captured through precise constructions comprising numerous wires soldered together, which both confer an energetic formal tension on the piece and at the same time render it immaterial, almost weightless. The lines create planes which make up forms, and so planes give way to volumes in a dynamic process. Baines’ works appear as agglomerations of geometrical forms – spheres, discs and cylinders – or with free outlines such as spiral bands or zigzag profiles, which require the eye to follow them, to observe the object from different angles. The reading of these pieces in their alternation of forms – concave, convex, higher, lower, internal, in the foreground or in the background – produces a sensation of movement, of rhythmic dynamism. The rhythmic element is even more evident in the ensemble of gold wire rings, which in their cadenced succession of forms in space produce a visual composition like a melody. Analysis of his work cannot be confined to the purely stylistic, but should include the fundamental aspect of the technique. Baines is a researcher into ancient goldsmithery techniques (an expert in ancient metallurgy), and thanks to his articles and laboratory experiments has contributed to a deeper and more correct understanding of the jewellery tradition we have inherited from antiquity. His experience in this area has influenced his work as an artist-jeweller, giving him the opportunity to develop an original language in which temporal boundaries are overcome, where contamination, revisions and reinterpretations make fertile ground for his creativity.

“Sound and space is the beat/ Rhythm is the wire and space/ Line capture space/ Rhythm is the division of time/ Rhythm is the division of space/ Repetition is the consolidation of time/ Repetition is the consolidation of space. Mind the gap!”. Robert Baines[10]


SEHNSUCHT  Georg W. Dobler

“A desire that can never reach its own goal because it does not and cannot know it: the evil in desire is the search for desire, a desire to desire.”[11]

Since 1995 the geometrical syntax of the German artist Georg Dobler has given way to the invasion of naturalistic themes in his jewellery. Seeds, fruit and insects are represented realistically by using a liquid wax which, through casting, allows absolutely faithful reproduction of the original down to the smallest detail. The recognizability of specific botanical and entomological species becomes associated with a particular mood which pervades his work. In place of natural colours, the patina of oxidized silver, very occasionally replace by gold, takes away the naturalness from the natural element. In addition, there are large faceted gemstones, abstract antitheses with which the natural forms are made to enter a dialogue. This jewellery by Dobler emanates a dark sensuality, the interpretative and aesthetic valence of which is thick with references to Art Nouveau jewellery. As declared in the title of a solo show of his in 2006, Like Lalique, the closeness to the symbolist inspiration in the works of the revolutionary French artist is absolutely manifest. In Lalique’s work nature is “a forest of symbols” represented from multiple points of view, including its dark and esoteric side (just think of the Dragonfly Lady in the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon). Dobler appears to draw on this side, which has mixed with his German soul to imbue his recreation of nature with Sehnsucht, a word/concept with no precise translation. The idea is of an agonizing desire, a viscous sentiment, in which attraction lives side by side with repulsion, imperceptible to the eye but which switches on in the mind.

“You desires that always agitate in the heart/ without pause or rest!/ Nostalgia which stirs up the breath/ when you rest, when do you sleep?/ The winds, the small birds whisper;/ but you, desires without a destination, when will you find sleep?/ Ah, when no longer in golden distances/ my spirit winged by sleep will wander,/ no longer on eternally distant stars/ will I rest my gaze full of nostalgia (…).”

Johannes Brahams, Gestillte Sehnsucht


MINIMAL Graziano Visintin

Controversial and much debated, the definition Minimal Art indicates a way of working which developed in the 1960s and which was marked by a decisive, clear aesthetic understatement, a reduction to the minimum of the artistic language. The work should not show anything except the material with which it was made and the technique used to create it. The emphasis is placed on the objective and physical nature of the work, and the reduction encompasses all the elements: forms, colours, composition and surface treatment. The works are made up of primary structures organized into one-off or repeated geometrical modules.[12]

In the world of research jewellery, minimal reduction can already be found in the 1960s, above all in the Netherlands with the work of Emmy Van Leersum e Gijs Bakker, and continued to develop in the following decades in various countries and in various forms. A member of the Padova School, Graziano Visintin’s jewellery from the 1980s and early 90s shows an original interpretation of minimalism. The geometrical form, an element at the core of goldsmithery design, is subjected to a process which effectively removes volume and weight, from which the piece emerges as a linear design. A cone hollowed out inside becomes a ring, a meeting of diagonals and an alternation of small white and yellow gold bars create airy brooches, small tetrahedrons in yellow gold enliven the ascetic linearity of a square necklace and a rectangular brooch. Other necklaces are created as segments connected by joints to form a hexagon, or are conceived as ensembles of thread-like elements inserted into each other, giving the structure extreme flexibility. The lightness and minimalist essentiality of his compositions spring from a balanced research into the construction of the form, which comes about through a studied working of gold, the undisputed leading player in his work. The extreme simplification of form is rendered vibrant by modulation of the light effects, which imbues each piece with a counterpointed rarefaction playing on minimal chiaroscuro effects.


FORM Annelies Planteijdt

“Form, the ordering principle, that which confers unity and coherence on a multiplicity of elements.”[13]

Starting in 2000, the Dutch artist Annelies Planteijdt has carried out research into the structural and dynamic principle of the necklace. In the world of research jewellery, the piece most often employed is the brooch, due to its greater independence, while the necklace is more dependent on the conditioning that derives from its stronger connection with the body. Starting from its positioning on the neck and the flow onto the bust, the artist has developed her research into the necklace as a true form coming into being. Due to its construction as an ensemble made up of geometrical modules of various sizes connected by little rings, the piece possesses two possibilities of presentation, exhibited on a stand or worn on the body, which the artist calls phase 1 and phase 2. In phase 1, the necklace, arranged on a stand, is seen as an ordered composition, positioned precisely in order to trace the geometry of architectural structures. In this way her necklaces make up an imaginary urban landscape, a Beautiful City, in which the De Stijl tradition is combined with an evocative, poetic vein. Colour is an important tool, obtained by the use of pigments in combination with metals such as tantalum and titanium, or with the insertion of corals, pearls, chrysoprase, lapis-lazuli or jet. Together with the addition of colour, the titles of the pieces emphasize the atmospheric effect, titles such as Purple blue windows, Red purple land or Pink stairs. The necklaces have been created bearing in mind their existence as objects in space, having a front and a back, which after being seen beg to be taken in hand and carefully examined. At this point we move on to phase 2, to the transformation: the rigidity is seen to be merely visual, not structural, the object loses its right-angled arrangement and flows easily, adapting itself to the relationship which it establishes with the body. The necklace changes thanks to the introduction of the dynamic element, which subverts the established order, offering another formulation to the shape of the object and maintaining the original structure at the same time. In Annelies Planteijdt’s approach, the formalistic component opens up a reflection on duality, at the boundary between control and freedom, rigidity and fluidity, coherence and disorder.

“The form, something which moves, becomes, passes. The theory of forms is a theory of metamorphosis.” Goethe[14]



“Structure is understood as a relatively closed totality, a unitary system the elements of which not only affect each other but are also inconceivable in the sense of isolated atoms, since on the contrary they can be determined individually by starting from the relationships in which they are involved.”[15]

In the work of Svenja John, we can perceive the challenge of transforming a sheet of synthetic material, a polycarbonate (Macrolon, produced by the company Bayern) into a three-dimensional object, a construction in space. The method of construction is the result of a study of the characteristics and potential of this material, which the artist has been using since 1992. It is extremely strong, but at the same time very flexible and light, and so is ideal for use in large-scale jewellery. The film, of various thicknesses, is polished with emery, painted (the colour mixes with the material, making it long-lasting) and then cut with a waterjet into various modules, mainly geometrical, and assembled with precision following a given sequence, paying great attention to every single detail. This principle of construction offers a wide range of formal possibilities, as the bracelets Bugi, Lapido, Cok and Rudny demonstrate. The system for connecting the elements is devised using an engineering approach, which is combined with a measured use of colour. While in the early works patterns were painted on the surfaces, later works see the colour spread over the whole surface of each individual element, combining delicate pastel nuances, or can light up with more decisive, brighter tones. The colours also have a structural function in the association of darker colours within the form and lighter, brighter ones on the outside. The modules have basic geometrical forms which become more complicated when assembled, suggesting references to organic, cellular, flowery and even bone structures.

Lightness, delicacy and plasticity come together in objects which seem to be able to float in the air: they attract the eyes, inviting them to dwell on their forms, then to enter into their fascinating kaleidoscope.


SPARKLE Karl Fritsch

In dictionaries in many languages, the definition of “jewellery” nearly always mentions the association of precious metals and gemstones: “Precious object made up of one or more gemstones, often set in precious metal”[16]; “An ornament for wearing, contaning one or more precious stones”[17]. The reason should be sought in the collective imagination, in which body ornaments are first and foremost linked to objects studded with sparkling gems. The flashes, the sparks that emanate from these creations of Mother Nature exercise an undying fascination, probably inscribed in Mankind’s DNA, and perhaps in that of some animals if credence is to be given to the legend of the pilfering magpie. Among all the types of jewellery, the ring has, since its most ancient beginnings, developed a particular relationship with stones due to its social, religious and sentimental implications.[18] The work of the German artist Karl Fritsch can be defined as a real philological research into the ring, its structure, the development of the mounting and the gem setting, aimed directly at upsetting the established canons. In his rings we see a systematic reinvention of the morphology: the setting, the claw, the possibility of associating different colours and forms of gems and faceted glass stones. There is a rewriting of the liaison précieuse which, on the finger of one hand, combines a metal shape with a coloured material. In some of his rings, the gems and glass stones emerge from the material in which they are set like geological concretions, they come to life in a visual hyperbole, growing upwards, sideways and giving the impression that they formed and evolved together with it. Other rings have stones which defy the laws of gravity, exhibited in bold acrobatic evolutions. The iconoclastic intensity of the artist is unstoppable, not even before a myth such as the solitaire, the token of love still exchanged today by hearts inflamed by passion. On the small setting, instead of the expected diamond, Fritsch places a pointed cylinder in gold (a bullet?), which pierces a spinel ruby with unabashed eroticism. What a pagan, manifest celebration of the senses! And those oh-so-reassuring conventions, what end have they come to in these modern times? The disorientating effect, the ability to overcome the strict boundaries of categorization, confer a vibrant strength on Fritsch’s work. As Robert Baines commented concisely, “Orthodox methods are pursed for unorthodox purposes of challenging an orthodox aesthetic”.[19]


KITSCHEN Lisa Walker

“From the German kitschen, a verb which in the spoken language means to collect rubbish, to buy cheaply, but also to collect old things.”[20]

A courageous enterprise, that of New Zealand artist Lisa Walker: to reformulate the approach to jewellery, violating the aesthetic canons and redesigning the boundaries of what one can and cannot wear. Not to follow any recipe, but rather to reinvent everything, starting from the ingredients: as she herself states, “Everything is food for art”. To seek, find, assemble and so give life to chaotic, dissonant assemblages of detritus, refuse, plastic and organic objects, scraps of fabric, paper cuttings, pieces of wood, parts of toys, miniatures, all dripping with glue. Glue, a true deus ex machina for her jewellery, is a fundamental tool in their construction, but also plays a leading aesthetic role, an overflowing magmatic presence. The materials may be found by accident on the street, by rooting through the rubbish from her own studio, after targeted searches in haberdashers or hobby shops, but may also be provided by friends and acquaintances. The creation of the piece begins determined by the material, as the artist says: “A piece begins in the moment where I choose, buy, find or receive a material”. Sometimes the pieces are put together rapidly, to placate a horror vacui, while others are built with extreme care, calculating to the millimetre the position and studying the effects of form and colour. Her work is unmistakable, interwoven with an ability to match up fragments and left-overs in true anthology of the ephemeral, the useless and the trivial, laden with references, associations and information about an age, its customs and behaviour. Low-tech still life, which thanks to a pin on the back one can also wear, pervaded with a light-hearted spirit which does not take itself too seriously, in which the gratuitousness is apparent, the subtle boundary is kept under control and balance is sought: “I like this balance of an accepted notion of beauty, and oddness, it’s not easy to find”.[21]

“I perceive a soul in the material, and I have the same attitude towards gold, silver, diamonds, toilet paper, market crates, crystal, metal fragments, rags, towards anything I consider material. I’m even interested in rubbish, and I feel a kind of joy when I manipulate it. (…) Even rubbish has its history, because there you find objects that have been worked, which have lived, which existed; which have taken on a kind of beauty.” César[22]


WITZ David Bielander

“Witz has an inventive character based on the ability to associate different concepts with the effect of surprise. (…) The invention is above all a discovery: the intuitive discovery of secret link. (…) The ability to associate objects which are distant and heterogeneous.”[23]

The ability to create visual impressions that excite surprise and wonder in the viewer is one of the founding aspects of the work by Swiss artist David Bielander. All his jewellery springs from a desire to embody a precise image, described by specific parameters. The creative process is focused on seeking the best relationship between the desired form and the most suitable combination of materials, and the most functional techniques, to create it. Experiment, associate, try and don’t stop until you get to that real “Eureka!” feeling. In addition to more traditional materials and techniques, such as silver and engraving, the artist also achieves his goal by using existing objects: in Dung Beetle the brooch is made by bending a teaspoon, in the Turtle brooch the shell derives from a crown top, and in the Fisch bracelet the silver scales are provided by a large number of drawing pins. The interaction between the object, the person who wears it and the person who observes it is carefully researched by the artist, who constantly calibrates effects of dislocation and recollocation in this work. Amazement, coupled perhaps with a certain feeling of disgust, could be aroused by the sight of a slimy slug that peeps up from an elegant men’s jacket or an expensive fur coat. Like an accomplished illusionist, Bielander plays with forms and materials, and induces us to open our eyes wider to see unexpected creative possibilities in daily existence as well.

“I went up to a bicycle’s saddle and handlebars abandoned by the side of the road, and I said to myself, ‘Look, that’s a bull’. I immediately put them together, anyone who saw them said, ‘Look, a bull!’, until a cyclist came up and said, ‘Look, a bicycle saddle!’ He restored the saddle and handlebars. And that can continue into infinity, according to mental and bodily requirements”. Pablo Picasso[24]


COLOUR Sally Marsland

“In general terms, colour has a direct influence on the soul; colour is the keyboard, the eyes are hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, pressing one key after the other, intentionally, to produce vibrations in the soul.” Vasilij Kandinskij.

“Colours take you over more and more. A certain azure-blue enters the soul. A certain red has an effect on the blood pressure. A certain colour invigorates.” Henri Matisse.

With her Flat Colour works, the Australian artist Sally Marsland offers the possibility of wearing colours, not jewellery studded with gems, nor decorated with enamels, but simply pure colours. Her brooches are made using a procedure in which pure pigments are mixed with an epoxy resin. With a smooth shiny surface, the brooches appear as compositions of free-form agglomerates of coloured spots, or the colours are arranged to form the elementary image of a flower. In both cases, she plays with the infinite possibilities offered by the associations of tones and shades.

As Yves Klein said, “Mankind is exiled far from his coloured soul”, referring to the condemnation of Western culture, pervaded by chromophobia; “What has bright colours? Children’s toys, the Kingdom of Oz; that is why colour threatens us with regrassion, with infantilism.” [25] These works by Marsland offer us nothing but colour, only the fascination, attraction, emotions, excitement and relaxation which they have the power to stimulate in the observer. Her works seem like a cure for the fear of colour, invite us to return from exile and joyfully rediscover our coloured soul.


WABI SABI Sebastian Buescher

Wabi-sabi is the aesthetics of poverty and solitude, of imperfection and austerity, of assertion and melancholy. Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things which are faded, eroded, oxidized, scratched, intimate, rough, earthy, evanescent, uncertain, ephemeral. (…) Wabi-sabi is a broken terracotta cup compared with a Ming vase, a branch of autumn leaves compared with a dozen roses, a lined, bent old lady compared with a model, mature love compared with an infatuation, a bare wall with its paint falling off compared with a wall on which hang beautiful paintings.”[26]

Against the myth of perfection, the works of Sebastian Buescher hold out the creed of imperfection, of liberation from the canons, of the exploration of unknown territories. His works are developed from an assemblage which brings together a wide variety of materials: stones, corals, seeds, wood, leather, nails, terracotta, porcelain, bone. Sometimes a thread, a cord, wraps round the parts and establishes a connection, the piece is born out of a process akin to hybridization, which shows the phases in its creation. Not just the visual sense is involved in this operation, there is also the sense of touch, the rough set against the smooth, heat against cold. The fragility of some materials such as terracotta and porcelain introduce a reference to the fragility of existence, and the resulting fundamental capacity to re-form and move on. The aesthetic force of these pieces springs from the exaltation of the ordinary, making it lose its ordinariness, just as the ugly becomes beautiful in its imperfection. In his works we can perceive references to jewellery’s ancient past, to a consistency dense in symbolism and rituals, in which suggestive power played a fundamental role. Although we are surrounded by glossy, rarefied images which anaesthetize us with everything considered glamorous, chic or cool, when we look at Buescher’s jewellery we are pushed over a line of dark shadow, to immerge ourselves in the earthy, rough side, full of the smells of reality, in its organic substance, and become more aware that prosaic side of life is also the most authentic.

“To ruin the bare face that emerges from the marble,/ to hammer every shape, every beauty./ To love perfection because it is the threshold,/ but deny it as soon as you meet it, forget it as dead,/ imperfection is the peak.”[27]

[1] R. Bodei, Le forme del bello, il Mulino, Bologna, 1995, p.124

[2] Since the second half of the ’50s there has been a new approach internationally to jewellery, the new jewellery. For more detail: K. Schollmayer, Neuer Schmuck, ornamentum humanum, Wasmuth, Tübingen, 1974; P. Dormer, R. Turner, The new jewelry. Trends + Tradition, London, Thames and Hudson, 1985

[3] H.R. Jauss quoted in in P. Montini (ed.), L’estetica contemporanea. Il destino delle arti nella tarda modernità, Carocci, Rome, 2004, p.236

[4] R. Bodei, Le forme del bello,  il Mulino, Bologna, 1995, p.18

[5] Cfr. M.C. Bergesio, La scuola di Padova, Ad Vocem, in M. C. Bergesio, L. Lenti, Dizionario del gioiello italiano del XIX e XX secolo, Allemandi, Torino, 2005, pp.253-254; M. Cisotto Nalon, A. M. Spiazzi, Gioiello d’Autore. Padova e la Scuola dell’oro, Allemandi, Turin, 2008

[6]  G. Carchia, P. D’Angelo, Dizionario di estetica, a cura di, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1999, p.16

[7] Op. cit, p.229

[8] Quotation in D. Yeah, Taming Beauty,

[9] G. Carchia, P. D’Angelo, Dizionario di estetica, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1999, p.245

[10]  Quotation in R. Baines, The Crinkle and Crankle of Wire, 2007, RMIT University, Melbourne

[11] L. Mittner, Storia della letteratura tedesca 1700-1820, Einaudi, Turin, 1964, p.700

[12]  J. Meyer, Minimalism. Art and polemics in the sixties, Yale University Press, London, 2004

[13] G. Carchia, P. D’Angelo, Dizionario di estetica, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1999, p.110

[14] Op. cit. p.112

[15] G. Carchia, P. D’Angelo, Dizionario di estetica, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1999, p.286

[16] Entry under “gioiello” in Dizionario italiano ragionato, Sintesi, Florence, 1989.

[17] Entry under “jewel” in The Oxford Paperback Dictionary, The Oxford University, Press, Oxford, 1979.

[18] Cfr. D. Scarisbrick, Rings. Symbols of Wealth, Power and Affection, Thames and Hudson, London, 1993

[19] Quotation  in Karl Fritsch Schmuck, O Book Publischer, 2001, p.167

[20] G. Carchia, P. D’Angelo, Dizionario di estetica, a cura di, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1999, p.168

[21] Quotations published in Lisa Walker. Unwearable, Darling Publications, Cologne & New York, 2008

[22] Quotation  in L. Vergine, Quando i rifiuti diventano arte, Skira, Milano, p.113

[23] G. Carchia, P. D’Angelo, Dizionario di estetica, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1999, p.317

[24] Quoted in P. Hulten, Territorium Artis, exhibition catalogue, Bonn, 1992

[25] All quotations from , Colore. Una biografia, RCS, Milano, 2001, p.28; p.311; p.19

[26] C. Sartwell, I sei nomi della bellezza, Einaudi, Turin, 2006, pp.141-142

[27] Y. Bonnefoy, L’imperfection est la cime, in Poémes, Paris, 1978, p.139



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