Back
Open Call Preziosa Young 2017 skyscraper.

Stefano Marchetti. The New Generation in the Padua School and the European Postavanguardia.

Article  /  ArtistsCritical Thinking
Published: 26.01.2006
Stefano Marchetti. The New Generation in the Padua School and the European Postavanguardia..
Author:
Graziella Folchini Grassetto

Intro
Marchetti is part of that dynamic younger generation of late-twentieth-century designers who investigate traditions of jewellery-making from the Mediterranean area and beyond, their research inextricably combining the avant-garde and the historical in a plundering - and renewal - of the past.
Stefano Marchetti’s first work dates from 1992 and may be taken to mark a step towards the dissolution of that structured form which had been such a feature of the Padua School since its very schuster-nicole-schuster-nicole-beginning-2016-2016s. After more than fifty years in which the local school of jewellery design had been dominated by abstract geometrical constructions and volumetric forms rendered with plastic modelling, the young Marchetti burst onto the scene with works that shattered these constructs. Metallic lamina became minute particles, totally autonomous microcosms within which the stuff and material of jewellery became self-referential. Tiny bodies of triangular, square or circular section were welded together to form uneven, discontinuous constructs, which might be said to be held together by the colour used to mark the rhythm implicit in the assembly. Within flat or undulating surfaces composed of small tesserae - with colour and form creating a sort of magnetic field of attraction that holds the individual parts together - the discontinuities in the magma highlighted empties spaces, holes. And these lacunae revealed both the substantial nature of the individual components and - at one and the same time - underlined the lightness of forms which seemed to proliferate with an organic life of their own.

Marchetti gave these 1992 works such titles as “Perforated modular brooch”, “Triangular prism brooch”, “Embossed and engraved brooch” - and his description of his own working procedures cites the Japanese technique of Shibuichi as one of his points of reference. Then, just one year later, in 1993, he would turn to the technique of mosaics, whose historical origin he made explicit with a reference to Byzantium. However, Marchetti’s use of this technique is very different from that which can be seen in the use of mosaics within the jewellery of numerous cultures past and present - for example, in the splendid eighteenth and nineteenth-century works that gave a Romantic re-reading of the symbolic works of the Paleo-Christian and Byzantine periods - and certainly seems to run counter to that general neglect of mosaic in twentieth-century jewellery design (even if might one consider the fragmentation that was a feature of the coquille d’oeuf technique as used in the Deco-inspired jewellery of the 1920s and 30s as an example of mosaic jewellery design, with enamelled metal surfaces and clots of crushed eggshells being juxtaposed in rigorously abstract geometries that were intended as expressions of the aleatory combinations which are at the very heart of organic life).

Marchetti does not follow the usual procedure of building up a mosaic by arranging fragments against a base support; and he replaces those traditional tesserae (of glass, glass paste, semi-precious stones or polychrome pebbles) with minuscule sections bars of metal (gold, silver, copper and argentan) of different thickness, which he then fuses together. The ideal behind the original art of the mosaic was the creation of a universe in which fragmentation would be overcome, resulting in the apparent uniformity of the effects of light and shade to be seen within cupolas or on the face of walls: the images created stood out, mobile and luminous, as a result of the integration of the uninterrupted movement and shifts of surface within the unifying context of the architectural volume. In effect, Marchetti explores the theme rather than the technique of mosaics; the individual component is emphasised, isolated, and thus distinguished as an autonomous entity, the vital nucleus of a very contemporary mode of expression, in which the individual stroke and gesture of the artist can be seen as the transcription of a spontaneous, unconscious and profound language.
Marchetti’s use of the individual sign - the element that generates its own mysterious and esoteric course of development - can be seen in relation to the work of the Dutch jewellery designer Robert Smit, who in the 1980s produced works in which black ideograms were “etched” onto surfaces of gold as the result of an alchemical process of oxidisation, which could be said to have impinged upon the matter itself, to have transformed it. Though there are clear differences between the techniques used by Smit and those later used by Marchetti, both lead to the same recognition of the emblematic nature of the trace, of the point and the sign. And if the methods used by Marchetti can clearly be traced back to the original research carried out by his teacher, Francesco Pavan - who in the 1980s began an exploration of materials which would lead him to move beyond the geometrical construct - the ideas embodied in the younger man’s work draw on different origins and influences.

Marchetti is part of that dynamic younger generation of late-twentieth-century designers who investigate traditions of jewellery-making from the Mediterranean area and beyond, their research inextricably combining the avant-garde and the historical in a plundering - and renewal - of the past. Amongst the young figures who have emerged over the last ten years there are several one might mention here: Karl Fritsche, whose work shows a deconstruction of forms which aims to capture the styles and images of archaic jewellery in the fluidity of magmatic masses; another German, Bettina Speckner, who investigates the field of memory by superimposing upon old photographs of landscapes new images formed from gems, semi-precious stones and beads; the Dutchman Evert Niland, who explores the sentimentality of Victoriana in works that echo the Black Jewellery of that period; his fellow countrywoman, Truike Verdegaal, who has been lead by her investigations of history to a sort of figurative Oriental art, producing works in which the stress on the two-dimensional balance between figure and landscape is clearly inspired by nineteenth-century Japanese prints.
In the works of others, one can see that flowers and animals are once more being depicted - as they were in the most common tradition of jewellery design - even if the pieces produced by the likes of the Dutchwoman Iris Eichenberg or the German Karen Pontopiddan reveal a nostalgia for an inviolate natural world that is symptomatic of a contemporary world in which the integrity of the environment is under threat.

For his part, Marchetti engages in neither regrets nor quotations. Faithful to the approach that has always been embodied in the work of the Padua School, he operates upon matter and materials, the very modernity of his results producing new and unexpected references to the modes of expression of a remote past. He brings together the extreme precision of individual components with apparent haphazardness in the combination of the whole, the two-dimensional nature of the perforated and uneven surfaces of his first works introducing a notion of space that would be explored in subsequent designs. Evidence of this can be seen in the brooches of 1997-98, comprising round or square plaques in which the individual components blend into a continuous surface, a variegated and maculated fabric of materials. Metal planes crumple, project or bend in a vortex that seems to be an avalanche of materials. The works of this period are based on the arching or curving of surfaces subjected to the power of forces which are intrinsic to the materials themselves. And this striving for volume goes together with an equal interest in lightness of effect. For example, in some brooches, the mass of metal is hollowed out, transformed into a lamellate structure, which is created when acid is used to eat away the core of the material itself. And in these pierced structures, threads of high energy seem to play through the spaces left by the dissolved filaments.
In his investigation of the spatial qualities of design, Marchetti is returning to his roots, and seems to be exploring his links with that Padua School of which he is certainly one of the most original new talents. Geometric design here results in rigorous forms that embody a dialectic which arises out of that exploration of core materials which was part of his earlier works. A significant piece here is the 1999 necklace, in which four hollow cubes enclose different amounts of coagulated matter (composed of the dust of various metals). This was the period in which the artist worked on his necklaces formed of bars of niellated gold. Perfect embodiments of Padua School minimalism, these works reveal a sculptural feel for the density of material. And the artist also broke down cubes which could be re-combined in different ways - a clear follow-on from the works of those Padua masters of minimalism Giampaolo Babetto and Graziano Visintin; except that here, niellated or shiny gold was replaced by an irregular gold surface formed from the welding together of very small components.

In the more recent works - of 2002-2003 - the interest in spatial construction and modelled sculptural form go together in brooches which function like parts of an architectural space, in which mosaics express a painterly sensitivity to colour and form. Marchetti thus invents new symbolic sites: slightly curved or rounded planes, which seemed to be ruptured fragments of mosaic flooring, now give way to constructions outside time, archaeological remains whose open areas seem to hint at labyrinths, at extant traces of magnificence and opulence. Enchanted castles, whose walls maintain some of their old crenellations in chipped edges of gold, offer us the ineffable vision of archaic eras in which beauty is embodied in a precious space.


© Graziella Folchini Grassetto 2003

Stefano Marchetti: Oreficeria contemporanea, Mostra Antologica. Graziella Folchini Grassetto. Padova: curated and edited by Studio GR20.
2003.

References

images:
1- Stefano Marchetti. Brooch, red gold, oxidized silver, 2002
2- Stefano Marchetti. Brooch, yellow gold, silver, niello, 2002
3- Stefano Marchetti. Brooch, red gold, yellow gold, silver, oxidized silver, 2002
4- Stefano Marchetti. Brooch, red gold, yellow gold, silver, 2002

Remarks

Stefano Marchetti: Oreficeria contemporanea, Mostra Antologica. Graziella Folchini Grassetto. Padova: curated and edited by Studio GR20.
2003.
Stefano Marchetti. Brooch: Untitled. red gold, oxidized silver. Stefano Marchetti
Brooch: Untitled
red gold, oxidized silver
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Stefano Marchetti. Brooch: Untitled. yellow gold, silver, niello. Stefano Marchetti
Brooch: Untitled
yellow gold, silver, niello
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Stefano Marchetti. Brooch: Untitled. red gold, yellow gold, silver, oxidized silver. Stefano Marchetti
Brooch: Untitled
red gold, yellow gold, silver, oxidized silver
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Stefano Marchetti. Brooch: Untitled. red gold, yellow gold, silver. Stefano Marchetti
Brooch: Untitled
red gold, yellow gold, silver
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Appreciate APPRECIATE