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Substantific

Exhibition  /  14 Nov 2019  -  21 Dec 2019
Published: 23.10.2019
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Intro
From November 14 to December 21, 2019, LA Joaillerie par Mazlo Gallery will host SUBSTANTIFIQUE in collaboration with the Alice Art Foundation. Echoing the famous quote of French Renaissance writer François Rabelais, this exhibition brings together four contemporary art jewellers: Alexander Blank, Sungho Cho, Karin Herwegh and Fabrizio Tridenti. Resolutely minimalist, all have chosen to explore this tenuous frontier between graphic language and three-dimensionality in an attempt to capture, through a piece of jewellery, the iconic essence of the visual symbol.

Artist list

Alexander Blank, Sungho Cho, Karin Herwegh, Fabrizio Tridenti
This approach manifests itself formally through the primacy given to the sculptural dimension of the object, whose form is deliberately simplified and synthesized as if of a sign deprived from all its ornaments to retain its sole substance. This rigor is also tangible in the economy with which materials, colors and techniques are chosen without ever neglecting the refinement of know-how.

Even if their specific sources of inspiration and their intentions diverge, the works of these four artists are deeply rooted in popular culture inherited from modernity and from the hyper-industrial society, multiplying allusions to comics, cartoons and to the game and entertainment industries.
 
This feature is particularly obvious in the works of Alexander Blank. An eternal teenager, this born-storyteller draws with a contagious fantasy from childhood memories, filled with skateboards, American comics and science fiction stories and movies. With bluffing virtuosity his works question the idea of shifting identities - as in the Jimmys series which relies both on the historical portrait and jewellery history by renewing the cameo genre  - or of the irreducible aspect of the passage of time, as masterfully exemplified by his most recent series of sun-brooches entitled Weather Forecast. The latter, essentially inspired by his own childhood drawings, is reminiscent of the experiments of the Cobra group and most of all of the tutelary figure of Paul Klee, who, after having exhumed his child drawings in 1902, made them the fertile ground of his relentless quest for fantasy and spontaneity.
 
A similar taste for the abstraction of forms and for the reminiscences of childhood can be found within Sungho Cho's works, also a former student of the Munich Academy under master Otto Künzli. Combining found objects and various materials - plastics, wood and oxidized metal - the works of this accomplished gold- and silversmith stand out for their elegant sobriety. The question of identity in a digital age and the threat on individual freedoms are among his privileged working topics. A master in the art of upcycling, Sungho Cho invites us to reflect on what still makes us human while technology keeps on expanding its web and domination on individuals and the function of the jewellery as an exterior signal of identity.

The desire to limit the means and to stylize the forms is probably the most radically expressed by Karin Herwegh's works. Deeply influenced by Antiquity, Tribal arts and Modern art, this artist, initially trained as a fashion designer, has made the choice of her medium a true statement of independence. After having spent some years carving sculpture works in hard wax which were then casted in metal, she has decided to use a simple knife to sculpt pieces of wood, thus allowing to give a larger scale to the human and animal protagonists of her sculptural chronicles accompanied by enigmatic titles : I like it here, An early start, A career in film, etc. A sense of humor and a talent for terse statements that recall the melancholy of Sempé or the clean lines of Richard McGuire's Sequential Drawings.
 
Fabrizio Tridenti plays the most metaphysical score within this quartet. No trace of figuration in his works, here abstraction reigns supreme to praise the void. Inspired by the Heart Sutra, the Italian artist signs with kū* one of his most mystical series. The beauty and the sculptural presence of forms lie less in their contours than in the negative spaces that cross or unfold around them. The austerity of the forms is exacerbated by the exclusive use of a deep mate graphite metal. In his attempt to describe the materiality of emptiness as a necessary condition to all creation, Fabrizio Tridenti seems to deliver a logical and serene continuation to his previous series that showcased his vision of chaos using discordant colors and pseudo-industrial wastes. With kū, the din and cacophony of moving bodies seem to have left room to inner silence and newfound harmony.
 
*kū (空, « void ») is one of the five elements defined by the Japanese Godai tradition.
 
Alexander Blank. Brooch: Weather Forecast #14, 2019. Corian, silver.. From series: Weather Forecast. Alexander Blank
Brooch: Weather Forecast #14, 2019
Corian, silver.
From series: Weather Forecast
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Fabrizio Tridenti. Brooch: Untitled, 2018. Iron, steel, paint.. From series: Ku. Fabrizio Tridenti
Brooch: Untitled, 2018
Iron, steel, paint.
From series: Ku
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Karin Herwegh. Necklace: Short Stories, 2019. Beechwood, thread, paint.. Karin Herwegh
Necklace: Short Stories, 2019
Beechwood, thread, paint.
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Sungho Cho. Brooch: Untitled, 2019. Beechwood, MDF, silver 925, brass, paint.. Sungho Cho
Brooch: Untitled, 2019
Beechwood, MDF, silver 925, brass, paint.
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