The Review of Ramon Puig Cuyàs’ Retrospective Exhibition and the Lecture

Article  /  Artists   MariettaKontogianni   Review
Published: 14.12.2018
Ramon Puig Cuyas Ramon Puig Cuyas
Marietta Kontogianni
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The exhibition entrance, photo by Marietta Kontogianni..
The exhibition entrance, photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

© By the author. Read Copyright.
Brooch from the series Subtle Architectures (2009-2013), photo by Marietta Kontogianni..
Brooch from the series Subtle Architectures (2009-2013), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

© By the author. Read Copyright.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs retrospective exhibition Quan la joia es fa metàfora (When the jewelry becomes metaphor), presenting this exceptional artist’s works from 1985 to 2018, was the most important exhibition that was organized in the context of JOYA Barcelona art jewelry and objects fair 2018 10th anniversary, in collaboration with A-FAD, as part of the Off JOYA events.
The exhibition was on show from 13/09-10/10/2018 at the Disseny Hub Museum where the central exhibition of JOYA was hosted. A lecture was also organized on Ramon Puig Cuyàs’ work.
I feel very lucky that I had the chance to admire up close his work of exquisite craftsmanship and to attend his lecture that let me get to know a little bit better the man behind the craftwork, only to discover how soul touching and inspiring as a person he is.

Brooch from the series Arxipèlags (1997-2000), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs is Spain’s most significant and multi-awarded contemporary jewelry artist of international acclaim. His work can be found in the permanent collections of numerous and prestigious museums in the world as well as in private collections.
From 1969 to 1974 he studied at the Department of Jewelry at the Escola Massana Centre d'Art i Disseny de Barcelona, the Massana School, Barcelona’s municipal Art and Design Center. Since 1974 he has been working as a freelance artist, while since 1977 he has been teaching in the Massana, as Head of the Jewelry Department.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs is Catalan born in Mataró (Barcelona) in 1953, though he has some Greek origins too, as he told me in a short conversation we had, because one ancestor of his called Κούγιας (the Greek writing for Cuyàs) was Greek and he had come to Spain with Napoleon’s army during the Napoleonic Wars.
Living with his family in a house near the Mediterranean Sea with all the mythology that surrounds it and in a city close to the ancient remains of the Greek and Roman towns of Empuries, the major port of the Costa Brava coast in the Ancient world, embedded his soul with an inextinguishable thirst. A thirst for exploring the world around him, for making discoveries far beyond the horizon as a child full of curiosity that he was and for trying to explain the wonders of nature, that was later reflected in his life and work.

Brooch from the series Imago Mundi (2006-2007), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

His art became the means to his explorations while his artworks became the depictions of his discoveries, the metaphors. And as if they were new planets discovered by an astronomer, all his artworks, that almost all are brooches, have numbers instead of names. Because when he was a child, Ramon Puig Cuyàs wanted to be an astronomer and his brooches are his own small newly discovered planets; But he also wanted to be a biologist or a captain like his father. If he had lived in an ancient era, he would have been a savant, one of those persons who were an astronomer, a mathematician, a biologist, a philosopher, and an artist all at the same time. But still, he is a man of wisdom, a great thinker proficient and knowledgeable in more than one field of human endeavors, but above all of life philosophy.

Brooch from the series Arxipèlags (1995-1997), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs didn’t come to this world to simply live a routine life, but to be curious, to ask questions, to try to find possible answers, to discover, to be amazed, to reflect, to contemplate, to take pleasure, to enjoy. In a few words to live life to the fullest, always with great respect and love for nature and always in harmony with the universe. Making a piece of jewelry is to illuminate a microcosm that must take part in the balance and the harmony of the macrocosm.
In fact, he has a holistic understanding of life, of external phenomena as well as of human psychology, as he is not interested in the body but in the person and his feelings.
For me, if he were a hero of a literary work, that would be The little prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye, says the fox to the little prince in this short excerpt from the book.
And I strongly believe that for all his life Ramon Puig Cuyàs has been a constant observer with the eyes of his heart, an explorer and a voyager. Every single day marks for him the beginning of a new journey to the unknown that waits for him to discover it, to try to explain it, to enlighten it and to make it known to the rest of us through his art jewelry pieces.

General view of Ramon Puig Cuyàs exhibition, photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

And his exhibition at the Disseny Hub has been a journey too. Once you entered the exhibition’s hall and you closed the door behind you, it was as if closing the door to the optical and audio noise of our days, letting yourself fall into silence, a silence so important in Ramon Puig Cuyàs , because it's like a slow and deep breath, a breath necessary to create and to feel. And to deeply understand the exhibition, not to simply see it, you had to feel it. You had to close your eyes for a while, to take a deep breath and to feel that you were in the middle of the Mediterranean, far beyond the horizon. That the soft wind was blowing the white sails of L' Aquamaris Ramon Puig Cuyàs sailboat on which he was the captain, and he was sailing you in his sea of wonders, showing you all the amazing things he has discovered during his artistic career under the sea and on the sky, but also in the green nature.

Brooches from the series Suite Antartica (2016 - 2017), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

To my eyes, the white display cases in which the brooches were exhibited seemed like a boat while the empty white walls that surrounded them depicted the sails of the boat. And I feel very happy for having embarked on this boat and having done this short yet, so soul consoling journey with him because on my part I very much love the sea, but I have never been beyond the horizon and didn’t know what lay behind the line where the sky meets the sea. Now I know!

General view of Ramon Puig Cuyàs exhibition, photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

The key points of Ramon Puig Cuyàs' lecture

Ramon Puig Cuyàs self-portrait with a background that reflects the harbor of Vilanova i la Geltrú and the sea view from his old workshop, photo by the artist.

Brooch from the series Constellations (1995-1997), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

  • When I was young, I wanted to be a scientist either a biologist or an astronomer and to work at the Palomar Observatory in California to discover new worlds. Furthermore, because my family house was in front of the sea, and my father was a ship captain in the merchant marines, I wanted to travel like him, to see what is there behind the horizon’s line, to discover new countries. Also, I wanted to be an artist, a painter or a sculptor, but not a jeweler. I had no clue what jewelry was or any interest in it. In fact, I didn’t like jewelry.

Karl Schollmayer’s book Art Contemporain du Bijou, published by Dessain et Tolra, Paris, 1975.  Photo from Amazon.

  • A few years later, in an era when there was no internet, and it was too expensive to travel, I was initiated to the jewelry world thanks to the Karl Schollmayer's book Art Contemporain du Bijou published by Dessain et Tolra, Paris, 1975. By reading this book, I realized that jewelry is art. And that there could be a kind of jewelry for people like me who don’t like jewelry. This book is still one of the treasures in my library.
  • At the school, I was feeling like a prisoner. To escape, I used to look out of the window. But a teacher of mine made me love mathematics because he was much more than a mathematician, he was a true philosopher. So, when a few years later I went to the Escola Massana and started making jewelry, I discovered how important mathematics was in my work. I discovered that the role of the artist is the same as the role of the scientist, and that is to try to explain the world, the universe and that all are based in mathematics.
  • Scientists pretend to represent the world with the least ambiguity and mistake from the rational thinking, artists also pretend to represent the world, but they deliberately exploit the ambiguity of intuition. If in the remote origins of jewelry, the amulet, and the talisman wanted to connect man with nature and the transcendent universe through the forces of magic, today jewelry pretends to do it through a new humanism that should integrate art and science values. Jewelry must help to experiment new ways of thinking and living both to the creator and to the bearer; this should be the function that really conditioned the creation of the contemporary jewel.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs during his lecture at the Disseny Hub (06/10/2018), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.
  • For me making something like jewelry is very important to have a long-distance project. Each piece of jewelry emerges after a long process wrought from repetition, rehearsal, elimination, selection and decision, as well as an evolution of feelings, emotions, needs, hopes, certainties and doubts and above all curiosity.
  • Without questions, there might be good craftsmanship but no art.
  • For me, jewelry is an art form that allows me, as a creator, within my daily work using my hands and various materials, to feel an intimate sense of freedom and to share this with others. It allows me to process an indefinable need to transform, build, enlighten, and make visible the invisible. Making a piece of jewelry is to illuminate a microcosm that must take part in the balance and the harmony of the macrocosm.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs during his lecture at the Disseny Hub (06/10/2018), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

  • I am not interested in the body but in the person, the psychology of the person. Eternity-durability, memory or not and fears are the basic feelings of humans. That’s why I make only brooches because they don’t have contact with the body. I am interested in sharing something with the medium of the piece. When I work, I have a person in my mind, and I say that I hope we meet one day and share something through my work. Share the experience lived through my working process, of all that I’ve found, discovered and made visible. That is my work’s central aim. And, to suggest to the wearer that the simple gesture of putting on a piece of jewelry can on itself also become a metaphor.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs new workshop set up a year ago, photo by the artist.

  • I am a real craftsman. I like making things with my hands. Sometimes I feel that I am an artist too. But the truth is that I don’t know if I am an artist. I know that I feel I am connected with other craftsmen of the heritage and that makes me happy.

Brooch from the series Mapes per perdre’s al bosc (2017-2018), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

  • For me, the most important excitement is the choreography of the hands. Working with my hands awakens in me a sense of humanity, it makes me more perceptive and sharpens the senses. For me the humans are animals but what differentiates them from the animals is when they start to move their hands and make something. Working by hand is to make culture.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs new workshop set up a year ago, photo by the artist.

  • Creating is an adventure for me, which takes me away from every day, casting me beyond horizons of known and assured things. It doesn’t matter what medium we employ, whether it be jewelry or painting, music or writing, to create is to invent oneself, to create oneself. The act of creation is as though a journey to conquer an innermost sense of freedom, and to satisfy a deep desire to feel I am alive.

Brooch from the series Impressions de l’ Atlantida (1989-1995), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

  • Create requires an inner silence that allows us to hear the inner voice clearly, so we can better hear the dialogue between our hands, the materials and the forms, and our thoughts.
    It is necessary to recover the value of silence as a form of communication. Listen to the silence means listen to others, put in place to understand. Silence is like a slow and deep breath, a breath necessary to create and to feel.

Brooch from the series Arxipèlags (1997-2000), photo by Marietta Kontogianni.

  • The landscape is the context of my work. The landscape gives form to a way of seeing that becomes visible in my work. Every artist belongs to a time and a place, Barcelona, Vilanova i la Geltrú. Although, as the Mexican poet José Emilio Pacheco said, art has no nationality, it has roots. The artist integrates with those who contemplate, a quiet contemplation, one which, little by little, becomes an emotional reality, a sensitivity transformed into an inner landscape. The landscape, specifically the sea, “the Mediterranean” becomes a symbolic reality; this is the constant context in my work. To create is to seek a re-encounter with inner landscapes; it is the search for one’s roots in the universal using the sea as a metaphor.
  • I like to sail in my sailboat, L'Aquamaris, which I made myself 25 years ago. I like to lose sight of land, pushed by the wind. Live in another dimension of time and space where day-to-day problems and the things that we consider important lose all meaning; this is another way to experience life, to feel alive.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs sailboat, L' Aquamaris sailing through the western Mediterranean, photo by the artist.

Ramon Puig Cuyàs, Marietta Kontogianni, and Paulo Ribeiro, founder, and director of Joya Barcelona Art Jewelry and Objects Fair at the Disseny Hub, after the artist’s lecture.


About the author

Marietta Kontogianni is a Greek journalist based in Athens, founder of JEWELRYbox Magazine on Facebook. She has been working as a journalist for more than 20 years collaborating with newspapers, magazines and TV channels. 
Meanwhile, she has been creating fashion beaded jewelry herself. 
When the newspaper she was working for since 1995 bankrupted, she decided to found the bilingual (Greek-English) FB JEWELRYbox Magazine to keep on working as a journalist, to network with the people involved in the jewelry world and to express her passion for jewelry. 
Up to now, she has been interviewing the prominent and emerging Greek and international artists who show their work in Athens and abroad.
Furthermore, her JEWELRYbox Magazine has been a media sponsor of both Greek jewelry platforms: A Jewel Made in Greece and Athens Jewelry Week.
Her future plan is to have a website built to promote the Greek jewelry history.

e-mail: kontogiannimar(at)
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