Unfortunately I couldn’t make the opening of this exhibition (as I would dearly have loved to), but a recent Sunday was perfect for a drive to Tarrawarra Museum of Art to see ‘Returning to the jewel is a return from exile‘. The exhibition shows a significant body of work from three jewellers of international standing: Robert Baines, Karl Fritsch, and Gerd Rothmann.
“This exhibition is a return performance for Robert Baines, who also showed at TWMA in 2005. Baines is one of Australia’s most influential and prominent jewellery makers, notable for works which combine precious metals powder coated in colour with rare stones and miniature plastic components. He is also a recognised authority on the historical and contemporary aspects of gold and silver smithing and speaks at many international jewellery events.
Munich-based artists Karl Fritsch and Gerd Rothmann also have strongly established international reputations as master jewellers and this exhibition will give Australian viewers a special opportunity to appreciate their work.
Karl Fritsch is notable for his avant-garde ideas and the creation of jewellery that is intricately constructed yet often coarsely finished, and which can also be viewed as miniature sculpture. His often playful work is remarkable for the way in which he kneads and bends metal to produce extraordinary shapes.
Gerd Rothmann has been experimenting with the concept of contemporary jewellery and how it relates to the human body since the 1970s. His work is distinguished by his use of impressions or imprints from skin, such as fingerprints, translated directly onto the surface of his metal forms.“
There are many pieces here:
- Robert Baines: 3 neckpieces, 20 brooches, 37 rings
- Gert Rothmann: 17 pieces
- Karl Fritsch: 82 rings
The cabinets are single-artists groups. One had 48 of Karl’s rings, an impressive sight and such a strong group! The one above is a wonderful collection of Robert’s pieces, and the line of rings is particularly enjoyable.
I understand this exhibition was curated by Olga Zobel and this is the third in the series of this exhibition. It has previously been shown twice in The Munich Residenz (a former Bavarian monarch’s palace); and is intended to go to Abu Dhabi in 2011 and Miami in 2012.
As can be seen in the second image above, the walls of the narrow space have some text, which I understand is mainly the doing of Karl. My favourite text was: “Wonderful, meeting a beautiful woman who is confidently wearing an ugly, fat gold necklace. Suddenly, ugly isn’t ugly anymore.“
I was quite surprised with some of Gerd’s work: I am familiar with the monotone pieces, gold and silver, with hand and fingerprints. Here are some neckpieces made from large letters, some coloured in child-bold yellow and red. As well as a collection of a neckpiece and cuff where the fingerprints are highlighted in similar colours, as well as a pale blue.
This blue is echoed in the pale blue that has emerged in Robert’s work too (neckpiece below). My initial thought was that this introduction of a new colour into Robert’s palate (my feel of previous work has been mainly yellow and red and gold) may have been unconsciously influenced by the blue in work of one of his most successful students of recent years? Perhaps not, as Robert is unlikely to do something without deliberate reason and consideration, but the idea of the student influencing the professor made me smile.
As the image above shows, another new colour that has entered Robert’s work is a verdant green. Amazing!! There is one cabinet in the exhibition that shows a fantastic group of pieces, arranged in a gradation of colouring.
In text written in the exhibition publication by Rudinger Joppien the title of the exhibition is explained a little: “Also the title of the show goes back to Baines… I understand it as an allusion to the Old Testament: the exodus of the people of Israel from the Egyptian imprisonment. During the long migration, the Israelites sent out scouts who soon returned with (a huge cluster of grapes carried on a stick and) the report of a fertile land which was waiting for them. The oeuvre of the three goldsmiths, the title wants to tell us, is a return to the praised land, to the realm of gold- and silversmithing art. Sometimes, it is inevitable to go into exile in order to return from there even stronger.“
I enjoyed my visit to this exhibition very much, and may even go back…
Many thanks to Eliza Ordinans for providing the above images – please note that these are not to be reproduced without gallery permission.
‘Returning to the jewel is a return from exile‘ is at Tarrawarra Museum of Art (Tue-Sun 11am-5pm; with extended hours during holiday period) until 20th February 2011.