Pre_texto: An exhibition review with Gimena Caram, Marta Herradura, Sandra Pampin, Katerin Taipe

Published: 16.01.2019
Pre_texto: An exhibition review with Gimena Caram, Marta Herradura, Sandra Pampin, Katerin Taipe.
Yuxi Sun
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:

© By the author. Read Copyright.

Pre-texto is an exhibition with a special setting and unique context. The four participating artists are from different countries originally, but they all currently living in Madrid. There are many similarities among the four artists, which has brought them together - they are all art jewellery lovers, workaholics and citizens of Madrid. Hence, under the cover of the JOYA hot flush in October 2018, they gathered together and made this exhibition during the Off JOYA period. Through the exhibition, they were presenting their personal development to the world and meeting the people who shared the common goal in Barcelona.

中文版 - Chinese version      View / hide description

The four participating artists are Gimena Caram from Argentina, Marta Herradura from Madrid, Sandra Pampin from Venezuela, and Katerin Taipe from Ecuador. This group of new and old Madrid-ians set their exhibition at Taller de Joieria El Lavadero – a public laundry room in old time, but now the workshop space and home for Isabel Herrera, who is also a jewellery artist from Venezuela. The entire building is constructed by wood, without too many windows on the walls, so the natural light is not very sufficient, but there are plenty of ceiling lamps, desk lamps, wall lamps hanging in the rooms, which actually bring about a nostalgic vibe. Some of the people may think the place is too chaotic, messy, dark and covered in the dust, while I do not agree at all, I think it’s the place full of stories, stuffed, loaded with past rooted and grown at this place, which stimulates my curiosity. I have the desire to keep walking, and I want to explore this place. Every time I raised my head,  turned back or touched something, I could always find some interesting details or fascinating objects. (I will share more photos with you later in the text).

The first part of Isabel’s laundry room is the workshop space, which is fully equipped and full of the tools. It opens to the public, its possible for jewellery makers or lovers to use all the equipment, tools and space to make their own pieces after paying some fees. Meanwhile, Isabel is also happy to offer help when asked. The whole workshop space has kept the basic framework of the laundry room. Isabel left and piled up all the old objects above the attic. Although they are not in needs nowadays, they are left there as the decoration, which also shows the respect Isabel paid to the laundry room, to the past.

El Lavadero, the workshop entrance.
Old objects piled up above the attic.
Workshop space.
Workshop space.
Workshop space.

If you keep walking, you then will see a door next to the main big bench. It’s the watershed between the working space and living space for Isabela.

The entrance here divided the whole space into two parts: Isabel's jewellery workshop and personal living room.

As soon as we enter into the living room, Isabel's bar is on the left hand. After a whole day working, surely we should get ourselves a glass of drink.

This is the living room part, half of the living room is full of the display cabinets, they are used to present different kinds of craftwork, jewellery plays an important role.

Exhibition setting.
From each corner, there is a big plant pot and vintage furniture.

This second part of the laundry room is another view after we enter the door. It’s Isabela’s living room, with a bar area, big plant pots, an old-fashioned typewriter, all types of tables and seats, the old castle style of candle chandelier, countless glass cylinders… and all kinds of strange things caught all my attention that I almost forgot why I was there. Isabel’s living space is literally an antique shop, but it has more space than a normal shop.

From the workshop space to the living room, cabinets run the length of the walls and down the centre of the room. There are some different styles of cabinets in a row, which are used to display the jewellery work from local artists and Isabel’s own. This old laundry room is not only a jewellery workshop for everyone, a house for Isabel, but it also takes a shop role.

A part of the display cabinets and the works.

Crossing the first part of the living room, we walked directly to the pre-texto exhibition area. The big wooden dining table is the main part to show the works. The electrolier lamp above the table for illuminating the food was also re-arranged as a part of the display. As they are covered by book pages, they can be regarded as an echo of the exhibition concept.

Exhibition opening eve, photo by Martin Cotella.

Pre_texto, the title of the exhibition, to me, a non- Spanish speaker, is quite confusing for it looks like forward text in English. Pre-text, which refers to the text written at the beginning of the whole book. For me, it’s like a hint brought to us by 4 artists, since these four collections are the starting point of their creative career. One is never too old to create. If the whole life can be seen as a book, then the collection they presented here is the very first chapter of the book to show that they are on the way. Or maybe this title also refers to their common inspiration – literature, the book is the tool to help them move forward.

So, what exactly does this Spanish title meant in this exhibition? With so many questions I have, I will also make reference to the response from each artist in this exhibition review in order to reveal the most original and real creative process of their work.

Exhibition opening eve, photo by Martin Cotella.

The first question I threw to them is how this title came up in their mind, and the following is what they told me:
The translation into English of “pretexto” is pretext. Literally, is something put forward to conceal a true purpose. It is an excuse for doing something. However, a false etymology might suggest that it is the previous to a text, which precedes writing. Both definitions, the real and the fictitious, have been merged and, with the excuse of expressing themselves artistically, inspiring texts have been chosen to work with them, analyzing and interpreting them until the transformation into a three-dimensional piece. So, “pre-texto” is a text that goes at the beginning, but also an excuse for working together. On the other hand, etymologically, “pretext” (from Latin, praetextum) means ornament, literally, to weave in front, therefore, adorn.

Since book and text play such important role in their work, I then asked them who are those soul authors for them and whether they can share with me the book/the text they have read, which has had a big impact on their development. As well how they tried to transform the inspiration to the tangible pieces; what kinds of questions they had faced to during the process, etc.

Gimena Caram

Los Cíclopes by Gimena Caram, 2018; Necklace; Material: copper; Size: 106 x 20 x 2 cm; From Rayuela serie.

For Gimena, her inspiration came from the Argentinean author Julio Cortázar’s novel Rayuela. She explained to me:
Rayuela implies the active participation of the reader, is an open novel fragmented exciting and participating it shows the chaos of reality but neither orders it nor explains it. Its structure of flyaway sequences allows different readings and therefore miscellaneous interpretations. The author exposes that many occasions we can understand completely different things depending on the order in which we read or listen.

Étienne by Gimena Caram, 2018; Necklace; Material: copper; Size: 60 x20 x 4 cm; From Rayuela serie; photo by Martin Cotella.

Based on the messages Gimena received from the book, she named her series as Rayuela. All the pieces from the collection are the result of an internal personal process, where she joined the fictional world created by the author of the book with the material world where she stood.

La Maga II by Gimena Caram, 2018; Necklace; Material: copper and textile; Size: 45 x 20 x 4 cm; from Rayuela serie; photo by Irene Medina

During the making process, Gimena especially designed her project cyclical, recurrent, the main protagonist as the fire, and the material plays a very important role since it forms part of her inspiration and is a challenge to express herself. The components that comprise each piece of this collection are connected as chapters that together express a message.  The observers have the freedom of interpreting the subject perception of the pieces.

Gimena tried to express what the author's work represents for her.  Her interpretation is about chaos and chance, leaving open the contribution between who creates and who perceives it. The pieces have strength, but are flexible at the same time, giving a mixture of the feeling of fragility and rigidity. A more personal relationship with them will allow you to choose directions and movements, thus creating an active intervention.

Marta Herradura

Pensamiento Tres by Marta Herradura, 2018; Necklace; Material: silver 925 with oxidation, bobbin lace; Size: 8 x 8 x 4 cm; From Pensées serie.

For Marta, her inspiration came from the French mathematician、physician、inventor and writer Blaise Pascal’s PENSÉES“Thoughts”, which is a collection of fragments on theology and philosophy. 

Marta explained:
In the first part of the book, the difference between the mathematical and the intuitive mind, Pascal expresses that the difference between emotion and intelligence -or passion and reason- can be resolved through faith. So, my work is around these concepts: the irrational beauty and unquestioned mathematics and geometry, symbolized by fashion and architecture. These two very different disciplines, but interestingly, linked through the centuries, combine themselves in order to create small architectural structures built on delicate bobbin laces. These small churches are symbolic of the union between contrary subjects through faith.

Pensamiento Dos by Marta Herradura, 2018; Necklace; Material: silver 925 with oxidation, bobbin lace; Size: 8 x 8 x 4 cm; from Pensées Serie; Photo by Martin Cotella.

Marta always tried to combine opposing ideas, objects, concepts and materials. She was willing to see how two antagonistic things talk to each other, communicate and unite to form something beautiful. She hoped to transform her thought into something solid in real life.

Pensamiento Dos by Marta Herradura, 2018; Necklace; Material: silver 925 with oxidation, bobbin lace; Size: 8 x 8 x 4 cm; From Pensées Serie; Photo by Irene Medina.

During the making process, Marta’s main concern was to get geometric structures to fit in bobbin laces that are imperfectly geometric. She wanted to get both parts to give in, as in a dialogue or coexistence where both participants, with antagonistic positions, are condemned to understand each other and live together. It was a very tough battle between the pursuit of perfection of the metal structure and the base on which it is built, an ancient lace made by hand and, therefore, imperfect. As a result, the geometry of the metal framework is a little bit imperfect, and the textile piece seems more perfect than it is.

As Marta was working and building the church over the lace that looks like an architectural plan, she felt that the lace was no longer a lace and the metal structure, which was going to be the architectural part, was beginning to look like a crinoline. Suddenly, each part understood the other and they worked together. They were different and they agreed, they understood each other and an unexpected empathy came up.

Sandra Pampin

Olivia by Sandra Pampin, 2018; Brooch; Material: alabaster, 925 silver, stainless steel; Size: 12 x 3 x 4.5 cm; From Invisible Cities serie.

For Sandra, her inspiration came from the novel Invisible Cities written by an Italian author Ital Calvino.

Sandra explained:
Whether Armilla is like this because it is unfinished or because it has been demolished, whether the cause is some enchantment or only a whim, I do not know. The fact remains that it has no walls, no ceilings, no boors: it has nothing that makes it seem a city, except the water pipes that rise vertically where the houses should be and spread out horizontally where the boors should be: a forest of pipes that end in taps, showers, spouts, overbows.

Azalea by Sandra Pampin, 2018; Brooch; Material: alabaster, 925 silver, stainless steel; Size: 7 x 10 x 2.5 cm; From Invisible Cities serie; Photo by Martin Cotella.

With the pieces, Sandra intended to show her personal view of the subtle link that exists between what is real and the image of our desires. She wanted to work with the image of something demolished or unfinished that hid the transparency and beauty of the alabaster as territory and the lightness of the structure of the city that supports it.

Armilla by Sandra Pampin, 2018; Brooch; Material: alabaster, 925 silver, stainless steel; size: 12.5 x 4 x 2.5 cm; photo by Irene Medina.

During her making process, she paid the most attention to the lightness and apparent fragility of materials and structure. The tensions between parts that structurally support elements of each piece reflect my search and discovery working with these materials.  All the joints are cold-connections to help maintain rigidity despite small dimensions, providing strong support for the apparent floating transparency of the alabaster, slightly separated from the cloth, allowing light to flow through the piece and expose its beauty.

Sandra’s work began with sculpting alabaster, with this material she wanted to create a territory, a base where a city could be built with metal strings that connect and support the piece.  In return,  joints, structures, frames, volumes and open spaces support and suspend the stone as if it were gravitating, revealing under light its complex structure and subtle transparency.

Katerin Taipe

Mercado Celestial by Katerin Taipe, 2018; Brooch; Material: silver 950 ml., Menilito opal; Size: 23.5 x 17 x 4.8 cm; From Three Enclosures serie.

For Katerin, her inspiration came from the book The Way Beauty: Five Meditations for Spiritual Transformation, by a Chinese-born French academician, the writer, poet and calligrapher.

Katerin explained to me:
The author describes the five types of meditations on the role of beauty in human life and its direct connection with the sacred. Based on this book I have made three pieces called “The three enclosures / Sān Yuán” which connects the beautiful amorphous structures of nature with the geometry and travelling the chaos coming from our interior to the cosmos or what we interpret as sacred.

Recinto Prohibido Púrpura by Katerin Taipe, 2018; Necklace; Material: silver 950 ml., fine silver, Menilito opal; Size: 23.5 x 17 x 4.8 cm; From Three Enclosures serie; Photo by Martin Cotella.

The three enclosures talk about the inner beauty of an object or a being trapped in a body.
Katerin wanted to show through minimalist pieces, the contrast between the geometry expressed in metal and the beauty of the amorphous organic forms represented by “menilite opal” and how both elements interact as part of nature. On one hand, the geometry compared with the society sets the guidelines we must follow, traps us in a prison and on the other hand, how the being shows its inner beauty creating a cosmos that emerges and expands. It represents The three enclosures.

by Katerin Palacio Supremo Taipe, 2018; Necklace; Material: silver 950 ml., Menilito opal; Size: 25.5 x 14.5 x 5.1 cm; From Three Enclosures serie; Photo by Irene Medina.

During the making process, Katerin’s main concern was how to hold the “menilite opal” with the metal without using the conventional technics of fixing such as drilling or join with glue. The solution then came to her mind was interpreting a fragment of her text represented by the chaos and how the pressure of the inner evils influence in the being, therefore, she applied the traditional jewellery technic called Pala Catalana which is a type of fastening for earrings based on the pressure, she reinterpreted this technic in her own way solved her arduousness and accomplished contain the mineral inside of metal.

Image from the internet.

From the beginning of this project, Katerin’s priority was to reflect the beauty of an unknown mineral less appreciated and not valued from gemological perspective.  However, the text from the book helped me as a guiding thread to join both, the raw material and the inspiration about the sacred and beautiful, creating portable objects represented in “The three enclosures” addition to discovering the unusual beauty trapped in a body.
Exhibition opening eve, Photo by Martin Cotella.
Exhibition opening eve, Photo by Martin Cotella.

After talking about each artist’s collection, I was also curious about whether there was any special feedback given by other visitors during the show time. As to this, they told me:
The most gratifying feedback was to hear from the visitors found a harmony of the group, all our pieces are so different and keep a lot of unity and show our personality.
The originality forms an expression to melt literature and art in an object.
Each piece expressed a different feeling but all showed a common element. 
An obvious teamwork.

About the author

Yuxi Sun completed her Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2015. She finished her Master of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at the University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein in 2018. Meanwhile, she has been interning at Klimt02 since 2017.