Artists such as Bernar Venet, Anish Kapoor, Pablo Picasso and Pablo Reinoso are well-known for their monumental sculptures, installations, paintings or furniture designs. But it is a lesser known fact that the creativity of these artists also extends to working with a different scale and materials to design and make jewellery. The latest show at Custot Gallery, Art & Jewellery brings together jewellery designed by some of the best-known artists and designers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The show is the first of its kind in the region and features more than 80 pieces of jewellery created by leading Western and Middle Eastern artists, including some specially commissioned pieces. Iconic artworks by the artists are displayed alongside the rings, earrings, necklaces, cuff links and bracelets designed by them setting up a dialogue between the jewellery and the original concepts and artworks that inspired them.
The artists include Azza Al Qubaisi, Ron Arad, Peter Blake, Alexander Calder, Enrico Castellani, Vincent Coste, Ian Davenport, Niki de Saint Phalle, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Barry Flanagan, Lucio Fontana, Antony Gormley, Sahand Hesamiyan, Pouran Jinchi, Kapoor, Nadim Karam, Jeff Koons, Picasso, Marc Quinn, Reinoso, Herve van der Straeten, Sophia Vari and Venet. The exhibition is designed by Coste.
Most of the jewellery pieces were originally designed by the artists as unique gifts for loved ones or as exclusive limited edition works. They are infused with the same creative energy, poetry, wit and depth as the artists’ other works and easily recognisable by the distinctive signature styles of each artist.
In the past, the gallery has displayed Venet’s monumental steel sculptures from his Indeterminate Line series. But a pivotal work in this show is a miniature version of one of those sculptures in the form of a ring. The artist proposed to his wife Diane with this ring, and she loved it so much that she has become one of the world’s largest collectors of artist-designed jewellery. In fact, this exhibition in Dubai has been inspired by a similar show organised by her in Paris. Reinoso’s famous spaghetti bench is one of the works in the show, and it is interesting to see how he has translated that design into delicate gold earrings. Kapoor has used various combinations of yellow and white gold and coloured enamel to play with ideas of depth and perception and create the effect of illusion as he does with his sculptures, one of which is part of the show. Similarly, Farmanfarmaian’s beautiful pieces of semi-precious stone studded gold and silver jewellery are inspired by traditional Persian architecture just like her mirrored sculptures.
Karam has used his signature elephant motif to create a gold and black Rhodium pendant; and the colourful figures in Saint Phalle’s sculptures, one of which is exhibited in the show, appear as an assemblage of enamelled eyes, lips, hands, feet and hearts on a gold necklace. Her distinctive serpent symbol is also seen on a pair of cuff links. Calder, who often used tribal and African elements in his gouache paintings and mobiles used similar symbols and lines in the over 1800 unique jewellery works that he sculpted by hand. His pieces in the show include a silver necklace, which reflects the curved lines in an Africa inspired painting by the artist that is displayed alongside.
Picasso’s jewellery pieces are engraved with the cubist forms seen in his paintings and ceramic works. The show features a pendant that he originally created for his wife Dora Maar and was later reproduced as a limited edition along with a drawing by the artist. Ron Arad has recreated his famous spiral lamp design as earrings, with the spirals folded or unfolded to form different shapes. Ian Davenport is represented by a signature ‘colourfall’ painting created by applying paint with a syringe on a metal board and a watch he designed for Swatch where he has created the same effect on the dial and strap.
Hesamiyan has created a small elegant gold version of a large sculpture inspired by minarets and cosmology; and Jinchi’s enamelled pieces are based on a body of military inspired calligraphic artworks that she recently exhibited in Dubai. Emirati designer Al Qubaisi has created a collection of pearl and diamond jewellery that alludes to pearl diving and speaks both about her heritage and about the present.
The signature balloon animals of Jeff Koons also appear in the show as tiny gold earrings and cuff links. Another well-known artwork displayed in the show is a prone life-size human figure made from black mild steel blocks from Gormley’s Suspend Pompeii series. The Turner Prize winner has used similar blocks to create a necklace. The show includes many other pieces that attest to the ingenuity of the artists in transforming their ideas into wearable art.
Art & Jewellery will run at Custot Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz until June 2.