Marc Monzó, Golden Prototypes

Interview  /  ArtistsBehind the Scenes
Published: 09.06.2015
Marc Monzó, Golden Prototypes.
Sanna Svedestedt
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Blank is a series of jewellery made from industrially produced gold sheets without any treatment, presented in Marc Monzó’s second solo exhibition at Klimt02 Gallery. We had a talk with Marc about making without tools, balance in the workshop and explorations of luxury.
- When I order gold for my supplier here in Barcelona, they send me cut plates of gold that has some kind of industrial polish which gives them a very special look. Sometimes I have been thinking that I should try to do something with the proper nature of these gold plates, without touching them. So I decided to make a collection.

The title of the new series is Blank and it is because these pieces are a bit of “virgins”, untouched. What I do is I make a small object in paper, measure the sizes and order gold plates from the company.  The next day the suppliers give them to me and they are never exactly the sizes that I ordered because they are cut with a very big machine. The pieces are always rectangles or squares and very thin, 0.22 millimetres. I then weld them with laser so I don’t lose the industrial shine and to keep their original hardness.

I can build the pieces nearly without using any tools, for example the ring I have bent with my fingers. There is a point of risk in this that I really like. I become a bit of an observer more than a creator. Because the company is in a way deciding for me. I like to find the beauty in this. It gives a nice tension between the material and the situation. The material is expensive but the jewels look like architectural prototypes. I like the nature of prototypes, because they are open. In a prototype there are no conclusions and in these pieces there are no conclusions.

Over the years Marc has kept on surprising us with his unconventional methods of working in gold, from painting the surface with permanent markers to creating his folded Sun pieces with a basic pair of office scissors and plastic ruler.
I like to relate gold to common actions. The Sun pendants are nearly an office exercise, I like the idea of working with gold in a low key, low tech manner. It is also present in the new collection. The result is very sparkly but the plates arrive from the gold supplier like this and I don’t touch them at all. There is a balance in this way of working with gold, not trying to make it nicer, but at the end the result is very shiny. I really like this very thin dimension of gold in contrast with the value and the power of the concept of gold. There is a tension between the super thin, nearly immaterial matter and what the matter represent.

It is process, for me it is also important when I am calling the company to place my order. I say the measurements I want and I know that it will not end up as I am ordering it. The plates are small and they have huge machines for cutting so of course they can’t control it exactly. And they don’t know that I am making pieces out of their decisions. I was even thinking to title the exhibition with the name of the company, but that would be too much…

Blank is Marc’s second solo exhibition at Klimt02 Gallery. Apart from the new Blank series, the exhibition also includes a selection of recent iconic works, for example the Wall pieces. Marc explains:
When I do jewellery I always build. The Wall pieces are made out of copper and silver solder. They are basic shapes of architecture - you have the arch, the flat wall, the circle and the triangle that supports the walls. I take a plate of copper and cut it into small bricks and then I rebuilt the plate with silver solder, from the bottom and up, like a proper wall. I place small pieces of solder on one side and then the solder comes through and become the mortar that holds it all together.  

In the exhibition there are two bracelets called Eclipse. It is a loop where vertical transforms into horizontal. Many of the pieces in this exhibition have a dialogue between these two dimensions.

Marc Monzó, bracelet: Eclipse, 2014. Silver, 70 x 70 mm

I am also showing the Fire camp brooches. They are more sculptural in a way and have more volume. They are fire places made of wood. I construct them in my workshop and then I bring them to the casting company and they burn the wood. So it is really a camp fire that has been burned. There are geometry references in these pieces, triangles pointing to the sky but made with a natural rhythm.

The different series all related to each other because that is how they appear in the workshop. One after the other, all part of one way of understanding and working.

Marc Monzó, brooches: Walls, 2014. Cooper, silver, steel, 80 x 80 mm

Look back, how do you think about your fascination for geometry?
I think I am interested in geometry because I don’t know how to draw. Geometry makes that part easier. I also want to synthesize objects, to simplify them and geometry is a good base for working in this direction. I want to keep the idea clean and focused, to do this geometry helps me, geometry is synthesized forms. I think it is this combination, a limitation because I don’t know how to draw and the interest of synthesizing ideas and objects.

Do you have any way of dealing with the limitations that you are working within to create your work?
I struggle to not do too much, but at the same time it is a pleasure. I think it is a balance. I don’t think that I do it consciously. It comes natural, it is a bit of a contradiction but being limited can make me feel quite free. I don’t know why but I feel comfortable in those limitations. Let’s say, it is my home in some way. We can call them limitations - they are limitations - but at the same time they are other things…I enjoy feeling happy and awake, paying attention to very limited and single things. This is not only in the work, it also happens to me for example with music I listen to. Somehow it is a taste that I have.

In August 2015 Marc will be teaching at the Big Bang workshop at Salzburg International Summer Academy where students are invited to explore the concept of the big bang as a starting point.
It sounds almost like an overwhelming idea. How will you work with the students around this topic?
The whole universe was once compressed in a single point and I want to investigate how everybody works with the fact that things are big and small at the same time. Jewellery can be a very good tool to put the attention to the conditions that we live under. But I hope that everybody will approach to the topic in their own way, there can be very personal ways to do so. I consider that studying the flowers around Salzburg can also be related to this big bang. So we will see how everybody wants to work from these questions, there is not one way to do it.

What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to teaching?
The challenge would be to listen carefully to the voice of each student and to push each person and understand that individual language. I think a good teacher is one that lets every student build his own language. That is the main thing that I want to put my attention to.

Marc’s skills and open minded attitude has made him a popular partner for design collaborations, and there is often someone knocking at his studio door with a question or a new idea.
I like to be a jeweller and I want to be a jeweller. I really like to be in the workshop alone. Working in the workshop brings me home in some way, but it is important to have a balance so sometimes I need to get out of the workshop and feel free of my condition of being jeweller, so to speak. If I look at other jewellers that interest me I see that they also did a lot of collaborations, making objects and sharing work with other people. I think that jewellers, we have a certain knowledge of material and I think it is nice to share and to work with other disciplines. So when I can I like to collaborate, right now I am working with a lighting company on a new light which I am excited about.

Since September 2014 Marc is also working as designer and art director of Misui, a new brand of fine jewellery founded by the classic Barcelona based watch company Unión Suiza.
Misui is a great opportunity to work in the fine jewellery world with materials and techniques that I could not work with if I didn’t get into a project of this nature. We are looking for a balance between interesting concepts and work that can be commercial. We try to use fine jewellery materials but with a new concepts from the way that each designer understand jewellery. One of the first collections is called Light beam and is made in platinum and baguette cut diamonds.  I ordered special sizes of baguettes, they are much thinner than normal baguette cuts because I wanted to work with lines of light rather than the actual stones.

Do you think we will be seeing more independent jewellery artists going into the fine art scene and combining working with their art as well as designing for major brands?
I always thought that this would be possible, I know it is not easy because the market is the market, but I think there are lot of things to do. It can be an exciting experience, there are a lot of people doing interesting things and working with companies open opportunities of new techniques and materials. I think the concept of luxury is changing so much and this is an opportunity to learn and understand fine jewellery and to explore the idea of luxury.

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