At the Cutting Edge. Review of Stones - The Final Cut at Galerie Handwerk

Published: 19.03.2020
Carolin Denter Carolin Denter
Carolin Denter
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Due to COVID-19, Stones - The final Cut is closed already since Saturday 14th of March. 

As many visitors came with mixed feelings to the opening in Galerie Handwerk, the mood changed with the opening speech of Wolfgang Lösche and the presentation of the works from 54 artists. The possibilities to work with stone and the current reference to this material provided a lot of material to discuss. 
This year's focus lies on Galerie Handwerk and its Stone Exhibition.

Galerie Handwerk is a cultural institution administrated by the Handwerkskammer for Munich and Upper Bavaria. It is well known for its showcases of Bavarian trades and crafts, and 7 exquisite exhibitions per year. Originally founded as a private Gallery, the Galerie Handwerk had set itself the task of presenting top achievements in European arts and crafts. In 1975 it was affiliated to the Bavarian “Handwerkstag” and later to the Chamber of Crafts for Munich and Upper Bavaria. From the very beginning, the aim was to convey to the general public an idea of the outstanding skills of today's craftsmen and women and the contribution they make to society. 

Director Peter Nickl was the one who made the Gallery famous in the 1980s, especially through his feeling for high-quality craftsmanship, his curios selections and exhibitions resulting in them. So the gallery changed eventually from an insider tip to one of the top addresses in Europe. 

Inner view of the gallery rooms. Photo by Galerie Handwerk

Wolfgang Lösche and his team have been managing the Galerie Handwerk since 2003. And this one maintains the course of its predecessor. Surprising and innovative exhibitions, all with a special twist from all areas of design, such as wood, glass, ceramics, textiles, and metal with a focus on jewellery design. Every year in March, at the time of the international craft trade fair, the Galerie Handwerk presents a top-class international jewellery exhibition, thus contributing to Munich's importance as one of the world's most important centers of contemporary jewellery. 

The gallery is generally known for its well-curated and balanced exhibitions. On the occasion of this year's Handwerk & Design, Wolfgang Lösche, and his team have dealt with a mammoth project suggested by Elke Hügel: the topic of stone in contemporary jewellery. On display were pieces by established artists such as Helen Britton, Karl Fritsch or Iris Bodemer, as well as works by 21 students, from the University of Applied Sciences Trier in Idar-Oberstein. 

Despite the unexpected cancellation of the International Crafts Fair due to the COVID-19 virus, numerous visitors and artists came to the opening of the “Stones - The Final Cut” exhibition of the Gallery of Crafts on the evening of the 11th of March 2020. The mood was good and the works on display opened up the path for many discussions: from admiration for the aesthetics to amazing technical skills shown, to more critical questions based upon the selection, the audience was overall impressed and happy with the display.

 Above: Impressions of the opening ceremony at Galerie Handwerk during Stones - The Final Cut in Munich

During the opening ceremony and his speech, Wolfgang Lösche again pointed out the beginnings and the desirable simplicity of the Jewellery Week. It all began with the fair and a loose but committed community of Munich galleries and artists who organized exhibitions as a supporting program. The fair agreed to promote and distribute the program of the exhibitions, hard to imagine for newbies like me, but at that time on a simple A4 page of white printer paper. As the years passed, the demand grew and so did the size of the A4 bundle, to the point of today's printed and bound Handwerk & Design program in the form of a little catalog. The gallery manager also made special mention of the work of two outstanding and very different artists, Felicia Mülbaier, who completed her Master's degree at the Idar-Oberstein Campus last year, and the well-known New Zealand artist Karl Fritsch, who is known for his ring creations.

Talking with Felicia Mülbaier she said she was not sure of the whole situation this year.

I drove by my bicycle to the opening of Galerie Handwerk, honestly, I had mixed emotions but during the opening speech, of Wolfgang Lösche I relaxed my self. It was great to listen to his voice, he found some perfect words for the whole situation. Everyone got more relaxed, was kind and asked their opposite of how it is the best way to interact. I had the impression that the guests at the gallery have been very curious about the pieces, the process, and the applied arts. Now, after Schmuck, I can say that I liked the atmosphere. It was in the end much more familiar than last year. 

Seeing the exhibition for her was impressing, because of the bold choices the curators made: 

I saw two necklaces of Ute Eitzenhöfer and two vitrines more forth was the brooch of Constanza Salinas, a young artist who is still in the process of studying. A choice like this shows me that they didn't do the assortment by the name, they did it by the quality of work. In my point of view, it is important to show what happens in a different generation, by working in the same material or material group during a related time. I could see many similarities in the works, they all are made with patience, curiosity and also a very important aspect is the "loss" of respect for the material.

Ute Eitzenhöfer, Necklace, „Discourse 05“, Agate with Amethyst border, Photo: Jekaterina Smirnova

Constanza Salinas Stieg, Necklace, 2019, "Untitled", Wood, Stone

Felicia herself works almost exclusively with lapis lazuli, a fragile, opaque stone, with which she creates textile-like pieces. For her, working with stones means to perceive a kind of silence, so she can observe every unique piece by itself. She is working in little steps, with breaks and she takes distance from her pieces sometimes to be able to discover them in a new context. The process of carving and engraving stone is mirroring her observations of her surroundings.

Felicia Mülbaier, Ring, "Drei Ringe", 2019, Lapis Lazuli

The variety of the shown works, as well as the different stages of development of the artists, were also decisive for the choice of the gallery. Wolfgang Lösche explains:

Due to our exhibition activities, we observe the scene very closely and have been able to observe a significant increase in jewellery work in relation to stones for several years.
We are particularly interested in new and unusual solutions such as those we have brought together for the exhibition "Stones - The Final Cut" in the Galerie Handwerk.

One of the more unusual exhibition pieces, Vered Kaminski, Brooches, "Untitled", 2019, Various stones.

As the year develops hopefully more calm regarding governments regulations, the gallery hopes to show five more exhibitions: Serie und Unikat oder das Gleiche im Anderen; e grünt; der Glaskünstler Florian Lechner (Solo Exhibition); die neue Lust am Teppich and finally the Christmas Exhibition Künstlerisches Spielzeug - spielerische Kunst.​

From an artistic, goldsmithing or technical point of view, everything was covered and was the subject of lively discussion among the visitors. 

It was important for us to show very expressive and personal design solutions. Both in the works of goldsmiths who have worked with stones for a very long time, such as Georg Dobler, but also in new ways of expression as tested by young designers. The variety of possibilities was also important to us because here we see the current reference to the material discussed in the field of design, which is a major topic at the moment.

A classical piece: Georg Dobler, Necklace, "Untitled", 2018, Citrine, Rock Crystal.

For all those who missed the opening of Stones - The Final cut, there is good news though. Since the team was really happy with the works and the selection they made, they decided to upload all images of works online at their web. As mentioned before, the gallery comes up with unconventional ideas and knows how to handle difficult situations as the unexpected cancellations in and around Handwerk & Design. But for this, Wolfgang Lösche states, especially his team and the many exhibitors, as well as the university Idar-Oberstein can take credit.