Creating forms with a specific message. Interview with Andrzej Boss

Interview  /  AnnaWójcik   Artists   BehindTheScenes
Published: 18.08.2022
Andrzej Boss. Brooch: 5x8, 2019. Blackened silver, carbon fibre, epoxy resin, feather.. Andrzej Boss
Brooch: 5x8, 2019
Blackened silver, carbon fibre, epoxy resin, feather.
© By the author. Read Copyright.

The works arise from some impulse. Sometimes it is a situation, sometimes the theme of a competition. As a rule, a small series of works is created. / Andrzej Boss
You come from the artistic circles of Łódź. Are there echoes of the post-war avant-garde in your work, which at your alma mater - the State Higher School of Visual Arts in Łódź - gained a special dimension thanks to Władysław Strzemiński?
When I was studying at the Academy, there were still people who had been students of Władysław Strzemiński. This influenced the way I was trained. For a long time, I could not free myself from designing geometrical, very ordered forms. This logic, precision in design and certain minimalism are still visible in my work. As an educator and artist, I encounter different attitudes and views on art. It is important to have a foundation, to be consistent. My studies built this foundation and I still rely on it today.

In the 1990s, the State Higher School of Visual Arts was transformed into the Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, where you are now the head of the Goldsmithing Forms Studio. What does education in jewellery design and creation look like in Poland nowadays?
I started working at this academy in 1985, while still a student. At the time, it was the only institute in Poland educating in this specialisation. The Studio of Jewellery and Accessories located in the Fashion Department was first transformed into the Department of Jewellery, and now we are the Institute of Jewellery providing comprehensive education in this area. We are no longer the only one in Poland, but we are the country's largest institute providing this kind of training. We have been running extramural studies for many years and a significant part of the jewellery design community are graduates of these courses. We run post-graduate courses, too. At present, there are also opportunities for education in this field at universities in Gdańsk, Wrocław, Szczecin, Koszalin, and Katowice, but these are individual studios. Undoubtedly, educational opportunities in this area have increased significantly.

At the solo exhibition "By my own hand" organised as part of Legnica SILVER Festival, you collected more than a hundred objects from different stages of your artistic way. Most of them are divided into ideologically and stylistically coherent sets, such as "5x8" and "Hand Rings". At present, do you only create in series or do you sometimes design single objects?
This was my third exhibition in Legnica and it consisted of three parts: selected archive works (somehow consistent with the new works) and two new collections. For the exhibition, I had specially prepared the collection "5x8". Unfortunately, because of Covid-19, the exhibition was postponed by a year. So there was time to create another series - "Hand Rings". Despite major stylistic differences, the two collections complement each other. One is about the bad, and the other - is about the good touch. Especially now, when there is a war going on across our border, we feel threatened and this 'good' touch, which gives us a sense of security, is very much needed. The works arise from some impulse. Sometimes it is a situation, sometimes the theme of a competition. As a rule, a small series of works are created. Only individual exhibitions provide the opportunity for coherent groups of several dozen works to emerge. Sometimes, after many years, I return to certain themes and expand the series, but of course, individual works are also created. 

Andrzej Boss. Brooch: 5x8, 2018. Silver, plexiglass, amber, basalt, fridge magnet with Banksy graffiti.

The central part of the Legnica exhibition was the latest series of jewellery for the metacarpus, 'Hand Rings', created between 2021 and 2022. Where did the idea for this collection come from?
This latest collection was created during the pandemic. Face-to-face contact was replaced by various communicators. We quickly noticed how destructive this was becoming. Touch is essential for us to function normally. The resulting collection of wearable objects is designed to stimulate this touch. Holding something in the hand increases our sense of security, calms us down. In today's highly unstable situation, instead of holding a smartphone in your hand and nervously browsing the internet, it is better to relax by massaging yourself with a stone ball placed in a piece of jewellery designed for this purpose.

I was intrigued by the variety of minerals you used to create your latest collection. The objects include pieces made from rose quartz, lapis lazuli, agate, aragonite, labradorite, rock crystal, among others. Why did you decide to use minerals for the majority of those pieces?
I have been using stones in jewellery for a long time. I used to go and collect and process them myself. For me, they are a symbol of nature, of its power. When I walk on the beach, I like to hold a stone in my hand. This is one of the reasons why the 'Hand Rings' collection was created. The different stones/colours stem from the form of the objects. I wanted the different materials to make it more diverse so that everyone could find their favourite mineral/colour in it. Most of the stones - all the spheres in the collection - are removable, so you can also choose a stone individually or wear different ones in different situations.

Could you elaborate further on the concept of the "5x8" brooches? What does this mysterious title refer to?
The first four works in this collection were created for an exhibition dedicated to Katarzyna Kobro - Władysław Strzemiński's wife and an excellent sculptor. When designing her forms, she used the 5x8 proportion, taken from the Fibonacci sequence, which she called the harmonic proportion. Hence the title of the series. It is a proportion close to the 'golden ratio', so ostensibly it should symbolise perfection. Her difficult life was symbolised by this silver frame of thorns.

When I was in Israel and saw the walls between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, new works began to emerge from this series. Most of the important themes are related to someone's suffering and the frame of thorns made the messages it carried clearer. These frames are also a symbol of how most of us are enclosed in information bubbles. A sizeable collection of brooches relating to various current issues emerged. At some point, I realised that I was finding it difficult to break free from this way of describing the world. So, for the sake of balance, a collection of 'Hand Rings' was created. It is important for me to try to create forms with a specific message. However, I try not to create forms that are too literal, so that the viewer/user has room for their own interpretation.

Andrzej Boss. Brooch: 5x8, 2019. Blackened silver, carbon fibre, plexiglass, UV line, feather.

Thank you for the interview.

>> Online catalogue, By my own hand solo exhibition of Andrzej Boss at Legnica Jewellery Festival SILVER 2022
>> Video, By my own hand solo exhibition of Andrzej Boss at Legnica Jewellery Festival SILVER 2022

About the Interviewee

Andrzej Boss works and lives in Łódź. Graduate of the State Higher School of Visual Arts (currently Władysław Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts) in Łódź. He obtained his diploma in 1985 at the Jewellery Design Studio. Since then, he has been employed at his alma mater, since 2010 as a full professor. Currently, he runs the Studio of Jewellery Forms (second degree studies). He also works at the University of Technology in Katowice, where he runs the Studio of Jewellery Design. He has taken part in over two hundred group exhibitions in Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Sweden, China and the USA, and has had twenty-two solo exhibitions. He is a laureate of ten and a juror of fourteen jewellery competitions. His awards include: First prize in the International Competition for the Design of Jewellery with Amber "Amberif Design Award", Gdańsk, 1977; First prize in the competition "Contrasts", Presentations 2005, Warsaw; Third prize in the XI International Review of Jewellery Forms, Legnica, 2002. His works are kept in collections: Textile Museum in Łódź, Copper Museum in Legnica, Art Gallery in Legnica, Amber Museum in Gdańsk, Amber Museum in Rybnitz-Damgarten (Germany), Amber Museum in Nida (Lithuania), District Museum in Sandomierz and many private collections worldwide. He designs jewellery, utilitarian objects and small sculptural forms. 

About the author

Anna Wójcik-Korbas - coordinator of the Legnica Jewellery Festival SILVER. She works in the Gallery of Art in Legnica (Poland) since 2018. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in the history of art from the University of Silesia in Katowice (Poland). She's a member of the International Amber Association, and a member of the editorial team of the Amber Magazine.
Andrzej Boss. Brooch: 5x8, 2016. Silver, onyx, hair saw.. Andrzej Boss
Brooch: 5x8, 2016
Silver, onyx, hair saw.
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Andrzej Boss. Brooch: 5x8, 2019. Blackened silver, carbon fibre, amber, plastic signs on wood.. Andrzej Boss
Brooch: 5x8, 2019
Blackened silver, carbon fibre, amber, plastic signs on wood.
© By the author. Read Copyright.