It takes two to tango

Exhibition  /  02 Aug 2003  -  04 Sep 2003
Published: 22.02.2006

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Artist list

Doris Betz, Karen Pontoppidan

Drawings often form the starting-point for Doris Betz’s work. Intriguing or suggestive parts of her spontaneously or even blindly made line drawings are given three dimensions. Silver wire is forged into lines with an exquisitely articulated surface. The complex compositions evoke images of branches against a wintry sky. In the later work, the lines acquire an increasingly autonomous quality, and appear to be tentacles arrogating a variety of elements, from simple gold discs to entire shells.
Compared to these sketchy assemblages, the pieces made of hosta-glass—a tough, highly transparent synthetic fiber—seem the result of a more formal approach: discs are evenly cut from the edge to the center; squares are perforated in a repetitive pattern. The final result is far from rigid, however: the hand of the artist remains visible, color adds unexpected accents, and the sparkle cannot but allure. These pieces of jewelry manifest the quality of freedom that characterizes all of Doris Betz’s work.


In Karen Pontappidan’s work drawings also play an important role. She makes small disturbing sketches that are carved into silver, or transposed in blue onto white enamel; they are unusual through their ominous associations or unexpected insignificance. What, in terms of shape and size, at first appear to be "normal" pieces of jewelry thus acquire an alienating quality. The effect of this contradiction is enhanced by the way in which the pieces are made: highly elaborate procedures, such as engraving and enameling, serve to produce an imperfect result (‘schlampige Verarbeitung’). Karen Pontoppidan and the wearer of such jewelry jointly subvert established codes of social behavior, dress, and adornment.
The pieces on display reveal new developments: sketches in silver wire become detached of their base, or have turned into independent forms instead of decorations on a flat surface; their disturbing effect, however, is undiminished.

Ward Schrijver