Success is a Peculiar Concept. Interview with Elena and Chiaralice Rizzi From OhMyBlue

Interview  /  CarolinDenter   Galleries   CriticalThinking   Market
Published: 12.02.2019
Elena and Chiaralice Rizzi Elena and Chiaralice Rizzi
Carolin Denter
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The new series by Klimt02 offers space for questions, ideas, and discussions about galleries, artists and the current jewellery market. This is the second interview in a series of interviews with gallerists and art dealers from around the world.

We continue with Elena and Chiaralice Rizzi, some of the most visible ambassadors of contemporary jewellery in Italy. The gallery was founded in Venice in 2013 and is built on a direct relationship with the artists. The gallerists work with what they like, so you’ll find established and young jewelry artists but as well as pieces of clothing, and headpieces. Their aim is combining and juxtaposing well known things and pieces the customers have never seen before, so people can contextualize and feel comfortable. 
OhMyBlue is a young and successful gallery in Venice, Italy. Please describe your gallery’s criteria in one sentence.
OHMYBLUE is a meeting place, a house of beauty and culture. [1]

OHMYBLUE Exhibition Space in Venice; installation view of the show "Treasuries and Transience" by Isabel Dammermann, ph.: Federico Cavicchioli.

What major successes and challenges have you had this year?
Success is a peculiar concept. Let’s say the biggest success is keeping our gallery alive and well by selling what we offer and continuing to collaborate with artists whose work we admire and love, works that mean something in our lives. Our father was an artist so empathy toward art is natural for us. Biggest challenges were (and are) brick and mortar ones like acqua alta that at the end of last year flooded the entire gallery space. One big challenge is the crazy amount of taxes we have to pay in our country.

Galleries like yours have become like a “brand” that represents a particular point of view. We would like to know more about your marketing strategies and how you are able to survive in the non-digitalized world of the art market?
Yes, OHMYBLUE is a “brand” because is an idea. An idea of culture, an idea of aesthetics. As a jewelry gallery we are building our own world deciding to proceed a little bit off the beaten path trying to always have in mind a map of the social space in which we live and the fact that if aesthetic sensibilities are shaped by cultural habitus that does not mean that some people are naturally disposed to art while others are not. [2] We are growing with time, let’s say naturally rather than strategically, understanding what surrounds us.

  Federica Sala, Equilibrio, vessel, glass, iron, 2016, ph.: Federico Cavicchioli.

On the other hand, how important is the digital world and its communication tools for your success?
It is very important and we will strengthen our presence in it but the success of a gallery depends on its ability to sell and reinvest.

Besides selling pieces, how do you see the role of the gallerist in the artist-gallery relationship? What do you think is missing at the moment and what do you think should cease to exist if any?
The relationship between us and the artists is one of the most pleasant aspects of our job because mostly it’s an exchange of ideas, thoughts, point of views. For example, Eva Burton and us do have an ongoing conversation on jewelry-related things which is at the same time fun and fruitful. Once a young jeweler told us that when at her school our gallery was mentioned to the class, the word she chose while telling us the story was “accessibility” because we are also seen as a platform to young jewellers with a new identity. We actually say no to many authors and the reasons are always different: maybe its the wrong moment, maybe we do not have enough space, maybe we are presenting a similar artist and so on. But somehow it is true, I think our accessibility refers to an attitude that focuses on the importance of giving a wide range of people the chance to own a piece of contemporary jewelry. We work with established artists as well as young ones, we think it's mandatory for a gallery to try to give a chance to the young ones who prove to have the passion and the professionalism required to actually work, once out of school. Young jewelers will be the masters of the future. It is also difficult to work with them sometimes because they maybe quit working or they cancel a show because they think they are not ready. But in the end, it’s worth it. So, what is missing is to give more chances to young jewelers in galleries and in competitions.

What would be your approach to expand, strengthen and change the art market based on your professional experience? Any thoughts on improving the contemporary jewellery market?
Recently we were speaking (via Instagram) with a colleague, a very nice and educated gallery curator and she said something important. She said the contemporary jewelry world has been confronted to a glass ceiling for more than 40 years and nothing constructive comes out from this kind of attitude. We think she is right and maybe otherwise you wouldn’t be asking this question. The commitment we see in this world is amazing and we like to hand out a gentle approach to contemporary jewelry dealing in the face of its deeply-rooted elitism. We have to make this field more attractive and the only way to do so is to look outward, not inward, to foster diversity.

Speaking of competition, this is an important part of the art market. Looking to the field of jewellery, do you think the pieces you represent are able to compete with other works in different media, as you are representing as well ceramics for example? What are the differences and similarities?
Let’s say that, in general, competition is good when is fair. Going back to your question, we don’t think the point is for different arts to compete. Boundaries between visual arts and contemporary crafts are slowly eroding and the way to support this movement is not for jewelry galleries to become like galleries that deal with visual arts in the traditional sense or for jewelry exhibitions to mimic visual arts installations. At the very beginning in 2013 we started selling the vases of Hella Jongerius and Aldo Bakker tableware, among other things and jewelry and was a big success. At the moment we have vessels by Federica Sala and we receive proposals from jewelers to display items like scarves and pieces of tableware. So at the moment, we deal with jewelry, objects made by jewelers and Issey Miyake clothing. About the latter, we were exchanging emails with Adam Grinovich and he was writing us that he talked about him as an intro to his course on metals because he “[…] wanted to show the students that you didn’t need to have a complicated concept to make amazing things. His idea of pleating and folding has made so much interesting work - Really my philosophy is to find something that fascinates you and do it to the highest level - to break all the boundaries of what that technique is and show the world a new way of understanding materials […]”. He thought Miyake was a perfect example. And we totally agree.

Issey Miyake Bao Bao Bags and Amy Tavern brooches as displayed at OHMYBLUE, photo: Riccardo Banfi.

Do people make differences between the different types of art in your gallery? How do they react?
To display items such as Annika Pettersson jewelry alongside an Issey Miyake’s piece is a clash that proved to be convincing because of course, it’s a matter of understanding but also perceiving.

Do you think of other galleries as a challenge, a competition, and/or an improvement in the field you are working in?
A challenge, maybe, if a fair one. We think everyone has to follow their own mission and recognize and respect the other ones. We don’t really believe in hierarchies and we think galleries can and should be an improvement to the discourse. We have very interesting conversations with some fellow gallerists and to earn sincere respect from your colleagues is very important to stay grounded in this job.

Is a professional sales platform that develops and shares your work to increase sales something that interests you? What are your thoughts?
We’re interested in everything that could convey the work of the artists we work with. We were approached by Artsy and still did not decide if to join or not but for sure the article “Ivanka Trump Shares her Philosophy on Art, Collecting, Technology & More” didn’t help. We’re kidding, up to a certain point.

Anything else you would like us to know about OhMyBlue?
Our income comes from jewelry sales. Probably this aspect makes us more like a traditional gallery than we wanted to be! (laugh).


[1] House of Beauty and Culture was little-known studio and shop that was furrowed away on Dalston’s Stamford Road from 1986 to 1989 founded by shoe designer John Moore and in which operated Judy Blame, among others.

[2] for more on the subject: Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, 1979

About the Interviewee

Elena Rizzi (1983) is the owner of OHMYBLUE. She graduated in Urban Planning at the University of Architecture in Venice. She worked in the retail business for 10 years before opening OHYMBLUE in 2013.
Chiaralice Rizzi (1982) is a visual artist and together with Elena, she curates the artistic direction of OHMYBLUE. She graduated in Visual Arts at the University of Architecture in Venice and teaches classes of art history and phenomenology of contemporary arts for the Jewelry Design course at IED in Milan. 

About the author

Carolin Denter completed her training as Goldsmith at Master School for Craftsmen in Kaiserslautern in 2013. In 2015 she made an Internship at Klimt02, where she is working since 2016. In 2017 she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein. After her graduation, she started working part-time as Marketing and Design management Assistance at Campus Idar-Oberstein in the Gemstone and Jewellery Departement.