Robert Baines ‘Frisches Fleisch – Fresh Meat‘ @ Pieces of Eight

21 10 2011

Sadly I missed Robert’s exhibition at the Glen Eira City Council [link], but I’m happy to have been able to find the time to see his latest exhibition ‘Frisches Fleisch – Fresh Meat‘ at Pieces of Eight.

photograph taken with gallery permission

Exhibition media: “His exhibition at Pieces of Eight Gallery sees Baines create a commentary on what he views to be the endangerment of the original idea and the practice of plagiarism in contemporary jewellery. Utilising the technique of casting, something not typically seen in his work, he furthers his case and punctuates his argument by the frequent inclusion in many of the pieces of the Rothschild Red Giraffe, itself an endangered species.

The endangerment of the original idea” … this body of work certainly does speak to this in its deliberate repetition of cup components, which (before reading the above) was at first a surprise to me.

photograph taken with gallery permission

The colouring of the pieces were also a surprise to me – many colours not previously seen in Robert’s work, purples and pale pinks.

The black, red and green have been seen before in his work. However while in most of his work the colour has been introduced by powder-coating, here the colour is applied with paint. Again, a departure from his previous work.

This is interesting … different components, colouring, materials … a ‘fresh’ group indeed.

photograph taken with gallery permission

As you can see to the left of the above image, a few of Robert’s “signature” (if I may) pieces of gold and red powder-coated pieces are included in the exhibition. I was initially perplexed, but noticed that there seems to be a kind of progression along the plinth – gold, red (same structure), similar triangular components mixed with the new cup components, gradual introduction of the giraffe in the “new” pieces.

Now onto the Rothschild Giraffe. Confusing. Though it seems this was initially because I thought Rothschild referred to the huge financial institution and could not remember that the giraffe was their logo. Well, it’s not.

The Rothschild Giraffe is an endangered species of the animal [see wiki] and “at risk of hybridisation”. That last point is likely where the iconography fits in with Robert’s commentary – that all unique work is in danger of hybridisation through deliberate and ‘accidental’ plagiarism in contemporary jewellery.

Without researching it though, I would never have known these layers of the work or the significance or reason for the animal.

photograph taken with gallery permission

Finally, the German title … perhaps a nod to his favourite contemporary jewellery country, home to the influential Hermann Junger and Karl Fritsch (both of whom observers may conclude Robert does have a special connection with).

Pieces of Eight has some images of the opening night and Robert will be speaking at the gallery on the evening on Tuesday 25th October.

Frisches Fleisch – Fresh Meat‘ is at Pieces of Eight Gallery until 12th November 2011.


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