Ithaca. Contemporary jewellery exhibition

Exhibition  /  20 May 2017  -  25 Jun 2017
Published: 14.06.2017
Oratorio di San Rocco
Mirella Cisotto Nalon

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‘Ithaca’ is an exhibition taking place in Padua from 19 May at the San Rocco Oratorio, a prestigious site in which contemporary jewellery events are traditionally held.

Artist list

Lluís Comín Vilajosana, Maria Diez Serrat, Akis Goumas, Montserrat Lacomba, Despina Pantazopoulou, Stefano Rossi, Corrado de Meo
‘Ithaca’ is a collective project, created by artists / goldsmiths who, recognizing their common mediterranean roots, yet each with their own distinguishing national identity, are collaborating in order to discover a common cultural heritage, a connection that links their countries together.

The title of the exhibition refers to the famous poem by Costantin Kavafis, which evokes the Homeric verses of the Odyssey. The journey inspired the artists to express their personal visions about the similarities and differences in their histories, in their cultures as well as the memories of their countries, all of which share a connection with the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The journey - recalling that of the legendary Ulysses - symbolizes the origin, the principles, the reasons, and at the same time the goals that every man has on his path through life.

The initial idea for the ‘Ithaca’ project was conceived in Barcelona, during October 2014, in which the artists spent a convivial evening discussing their work and future projects. From this small beginning, and after a lot of hard work, individual study and research, discussion and exchange of ideas among the artists, there began to emerge, over the course of the following year, the creation of a body of works that reflected their own particular perspective, but at the same time contributing to a shared vision that connected their different cultural backgrounds. The first exhibition was held in October 2015 in the Catalan city (Mistral 66 Gallery), and since then, the artists have continued to develop their ideas in an open work-in-progress group.

After Barcelona, ‘Ithaca’ moved to the Italian city of Livorno (De Meo Gallery), and is now in Padua. Next year the exhibition will move to Athens.

Lluís Comín (1958), a native of Barcelona, who as a child used to play at being a goldsmith in his father's laboratory. He then attended the Massana School in his home city. He loves metals, especially silver, gold, copper and bronze, but also enjoys using other materials such as wood, stones, lichens – in fact, almost anything! Essentially, he uses lost wax casting, patinas and enamels. Lluís loves the stories that his objects transmit; their histories, myths and legends. He loves their construction and deconstruction. He loves their connection to Nature, especially to the sea. Ithaca is not perceived primarily as a physical place, but as place of antiquity and history. Comìn, therefore, recalls the Laocoön, which he uses as the starting point for his works. He has created a series of pieces that pays homage to the mediterranean way of life, “a metaphor for the journey of life, with the constant allusions to the sea acting as a common thread”. Laocoön’s torso is reproduced in several variations; in piece after piece the upper body of the Greek hero dissolves into forms suggested by the title of this single work.

Corrado De Meo (1949), born in Livorno. Since he was a child, Corrado has always been fascinated by building, experimenting and making things to wear. After completing a degree in Sociology he decided to turn his hobby into a career, and to follow his artistic vision. His works are characterized by large sculptural forms that, despite their appearance, conceal an unexpected physical and material lightness. This peculiarity is due to the construction and creative processes, which the artist has developed following numerous experiments. His discovery of polystyrene and its properties has led De Meo to some very interesting results, such as the covering of electroformed polymers with silver and copper, or with epoxy resins. With his brooches, rings and necklaces, De Meo uses Ithaca as an opportunity to tell the story of a sea, the Mediterranean sea, "a crossroads of histories and languages, of art and culture," a sea that today rejects and throws back our dirt and pollution onto its beaches, a sea that has been gravely violated and is now in mortal danger.

Maria Diez Serrat (1980), from Barcelona. ​She has been fond of jewellery since childhood. After studying architecture at university, whilst simultaneously pursuing goldsmith courses, she enrolled at the Massana School, where she is now employed as a professor. Landscape, environment, everyday objects are the main sources of inspiration for her metal works, which are made with the lost wax technique and then treated with acrylic painting, pigments and resins. Maria has decided to express the theme of Ithaca through a consideration of landscape and the orography of the territory, as it is described in the Homeric poem: a mountainous, sunny and dry region. She features two sets of brooches (Journey to Ithaca, and Ithaca) made with the lost wax technique and brass fusion, or by the production of a series of stratus, in which cement and silver are used to create a kind of lunar landscape. The results are mountainous or hilly reliefs, further defined through hand-painted acrylic applications. Circular shapes recall atolls, which Maria wanted to create as the circle has no beginning and no ending.

Akis Goumas (1952) was born in Athens. Since the 1980s he has dedicated himself to perfecting his skills as a goldsmith. After studying gemmology, he completed his training in Germany. For the past eighteeen years he has been teaching at the Chalkis Jewellery School in Athens. For Akis, making jewels is a journey through time, both within and outside of himself. Jewellery is, therefore, not only a creative expression but a history and a tale, a synthesis of memory and emotions, concepts and images; a set of elements fed by memories, experiences and myths. The main inspirational motives of his work are, on the one hand, the nature that surrounds us and, on the other, our shared ancient history. The works produced for this exhibition dazzle the onlooker with white and blue colours, suggestive of the houses of the Greek Islands and of the Peloponnese Sea. Made of silver, cotton wires, pigments, steel, bone and pvc, the brooches, rings, pendants and earrings appear like a tangle of nets and sparkling filaments, almost like ancient treasure-finds, covered by layers of sand and seaweed, that have resurfaced from the seabed.

Montserrat Lacomba (1958), a native Catalan, she graduated in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona and has dedicated herself, since 2000, to the research and creation of jewellery, after having previously attended the Massana School. The artist likes experimenting with different materials such as silver, copper, enamels, fabric and resins, while observing nature and landscapes, in particular the sea, with its colors and lively shapes, which are in a never ending state of motion. This, together with ancient buildings, is the primary source of inspiration for her work. Images related to the surrounding landscape are captured through photography, that is then materialized in the formation of jewels; such was the method used for the creation of the twelve brooches included in the ‘Ithaca’ exhibition, with each one being dedicated to a month of the year. The Iberian artist thus makes an ‘image story’ through her creations, revealing her active passion for pictures, which is always alive to current moods.

Despina Pantazopoulou (1943), was born in the Peloponnese and studied at the Doxiadis School in Athens. She had the opportunity to deepen her studies in goldsmithing at the Central School of Art and Design in London and taught at the Stemnitsa School of Jewellery in Arcadia. She is experienced in the use of precious and unrefined materials, organic materials, leather and paper; believing that preciousness in itself is irrelevant. Her works are designed along conceptual lines that find reason and form, starting from the laborious forging of metals and from the unique and special relationship between art and material. The artist has a particular affinity with Hephaestus, the Greek god of metallurgy. The physical fatigue of working metal is also symbolic, the same found by Despina in the Homeric verses relating to sailing and traveling, a sea of gifts and hopes but one that is also often hostile. A sea that, with its sometimes threatening and sometimes friendly wind, is the companion of the boats, which she presents here, among her jewels.

Stefano Rossi (1965), born in Padua, attended his father's workshop, where he learned classical bench techniques. Over the course of his career, he felt the urge to explore new techniques and to experiment with new ideas, which eventually led him to develop his skills in Japanese metallurgy (mokume gane, shibuichi). These are the techniques and materials Stefano has used to create the jewels of his vision of Ithaca: a series of brooches entitled Mare nostrum, which emphasise the circular form with its associations to the Homeric Odyssey: "the myth of the eternal return, where the end is the beginning of the voyage: a circular story that speaks of shipwrecks and discoveries, about native lands, foreign shores, and adopted homelands." The surface of the brooches is rough and appears to move, like a continually changing sea, which in its depth conceals hidden secrets. On the surface, there is always a reproduction of a fragment of a ship’s hull, deliberately coloured black, to symbolise a journey into the unknown, of unkept promises, a symbol of past and present day migration, which, of course, has never been easy.
Lluís Comín Vilajosana. Brooch: Still Making Road, 2015. Gold, silver, coral, enamel. Photo by: Lluís Comín Vilajosana. From series: Ithaca. Lluís Comín Vilajosana
Brooch: Still Making Road, 2015
Gold, silver, coral, enamel
Photo by: Lluís Comín Vilajosana
From series: Ithaca
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Montserrat Lacomba. Brooch: Moment n.4. A green I cannot find, 2017. Enamel, copper, silver.. 5 x 5 x 0.5 cm. Photo by: JM. Oliveras. From series: 12 of 1 = Life's Moments. Montserrat Lacomba
Brooch: Moment n.4. A green I cannot find, 2017
Enamel, copper, silver.
5 x 5 x 0.5 cm
Photo by: JM. Oliveras
From series: 12 of 1 = Life's Moments
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Corrado de Meo. Neckpiece: Sbrush. Silver, brush, acrylic paint, resin.. 6 x 7 cm. Corrado de Meo
Neckpiece: Sbrush
Silver, brush, acrylic paint, resin.
6 x 7 cm
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Stefano Rossi. Necklace: Terramarique globe. Silver, titanium, mokume gane. Stefano Rossi
Necklace: Terramarique globe
Silver, titanium, mokume gane
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Despina Pantazopoulou. Ring: Zig Zag. Brass, silver. Despina Pantazopoulou
Ring: Zig Zag
Brass, silver
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Maria Dietz. Brooch: Untitled. Mixed media. Maria Dietz
Brooch: Untitled
Mixed media
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Akis Goumas. Necklace: Untitled, 2016. Silver ,steel ,PVC, threads ,mixed techniques and pigments. Akis Goumas
Necklace: Untitled, 2016
Silver ,steel ,PVC, threads ,mixed techniques and pigments
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