Oona + Schmuckfrage Galleries

Last week, whilst in Berlin, we headed to a couple of jewellery galleries, Oona + Schmuckfrage.

The first gallery we visited was Schmuckfrage Gallerie, which I was keen to see since on their website they had works by Denise Julia Reytan, an artist who I’ve been following for a while. They didn’t disappoint, as the owner, Ute Klotzbücher, was able to open a drawer and show me two of her large and colourful neckpieces, while many of her watch bangles were scattered around the store.

This was the smaller gallery of the two – think about two thirds of Gallery Funaki with taller ceilings, but it had a warm feel owing to several large line-drawings in gold, high on the walls, and the use of honey coloured timber plan drawers as display cabinets. These had been altered with their tops replaced with glass, allowing considerable space to place works in the top part of the cabinets, as well as ample storage in the drawers below.

The works were a mix of pieces, with some being in precious metals but many pieces not. The owner told me that they have shows several times a year, but when we visited it seemed to be a collection of their regular artists works’ on display.

There was quite a range from the large and wonderful like the Reytan works right down to the very wearable, with a large selection of rings occupying a special ring-shaped plinth in the centre of the room. This was without any form of glass, so each piece was attached with a counter weight that was viewable through the hole in the centre of the tubular-shaped plinth. This suggested that play with the pieces was encouraged, so we gently lifted a few works for a better view. There was also a series of wall-mounted cases with glass fronts to one side, with smaller works on display.

Oona Gallerie had a single artist show; Petra Zimmermann – Dodecade (images available on the site). On seeing the works on display here I was reminded of the AJF review of last year, as they seemed to be a similar body of works to those described in that review.

It was a comprehensive show, and an impressive body of works with a clear conceptual line. But, like the old and antique objects they appropriate in their construction, I think they are a mixed bag. I’m not keen on some of the bulkier pieces where it seems that the resin was used to prop and fill in the gaps rather than as integral feature. However, and probably in keeping with what I just said, I liked the rings more, as they were smaller, more refined and the resin used more thoughfully.

The gallery itself is cool and refined. It has large windows facing the street and is well lit by them, even on the greyish day we visited. The size of the room is generous, especially for a jewellery gallery. As for the layout, the works were displayed rather low, and while I found this unusual, it was not off-putting. They were on broad white plinths, with grey risers for some of the pieces, and the rings on a single large grey sheet on another white plinth on the other side of the room. There was also some permanent hanging seating and raw wood poles as a part of the decor. Other works were accessible in a series of plan drawers in one corner of the space.

Ute also suggested a trip to a third gallery owned by Gabi Dziuba, but the day we visited she wasn’t in. I’m still not sure of the name of this gallery, as Ute described it not by name, but by the shape of the signage of the next-door erotica shop! (Let’s not leave you to think that one through too much, it was a large pink heart shape. Honest.) The window had some interesting works, and there was a large steel and glass table that dominated the space, but we couldn’t see into it as it was too dark inside. Next time – and hopefully in summer.

Castello Sforzesco

I am currently in Berlin, and will post about the jewellery galleries here that I’ve visited soon, but I’m going back in time to last weekend where we spent a glorious sunny day wandering around the city, and into Castello Sforesco. We headed there after seeing a sign in the underground about una mostra (a show) on the architectural drawings of Michelangelo Buonarotti. I couldn’t resist that, so we headed off to check it out.

Turns out that the permanent exhibition of the architecture and artifacts of the castle is also pretty amazing. They have managed to unearth some of the original frescoes, including some that are reputed to be by the hand of a relatively unknown bloke, Leonardo.

I really loved the exhibition design, possibly even more so because it was not what I am used to in the display of historical  artifacts. The placement was affecting – both in terms of their position in the layout of the room as well as the proportions and style of the plinths, and their manufacture. Natural light was used well, and pieces such as busts were mounted so you could see all around them, and look them in the eye.

The armour (which I thought I’d already seen enough of in Venice at the Doge’s Palace) was also carefully considered. In the lean of the spears you could almost feel their heft. The armour, held aloft as if its owner had just slipped out of it, was positioned right next to a cluster of spears, which gave you a better idea of the size of person who would have been hauling one of these monsters about.

Overall, the use of such thick timber in the installation added its gravitas to that of the works on display. It was as if the weight of history within the walls of the castle was literal, and necessitated both modern skill and brawn to carry it with any sort of conviction.

And yes, Michelangelo’s drawings were pretty impressive too. By then end of that show I got a feeling, from the many abandoned and unfinished projects they had on display, that his full potential in this arena was never materialised. It felt a little like the curators were trying very hard to make his architectural legacy more than it actually is. I guess they could be forgiven this, given he was such a multi-talented bloke. Though that impression could also be down to some interesting and flowery translations of the curatorial texts that lined the walls. In the end I gave up reading and let the drawings do the talking. Probably how it should be.

Siamo in Venezia

So, we’re rocking through the Doges Palace museum here in Venice, and the Hieronymus Bosch’s have all been shipped down the … canal, to their own show. Left in the room is another artist’s depiction of hell, which is also very Hiery (if I may be so bold as to call him that) and a Quentin Metsys (1465-1530) called The Mocking of Christ (Il Cristo Diriso), which is an oil painting on wooden board.

What stands out in this painting, is, wait for it… The jewellery. It is exquisitely rendered, and so very un-Roman. They wouldn’t have made pieces like this, and couldn’t have made pieces like this. But, wow, they’re good. Well, the picture is good. I sometimes think it would be nice to produce lovely renderings of jewellery, and if I ever decide that I’m actually going to do it, I’m going to spend more time looking up this Mestys bloke.

In other news, within the Peggy Guggenheim collection, the couple of pieces of Alexander Calder’s works that are on show are very impressive. There’s an image in the gallery of her with some of his earrings on too. Wonder where they are?


Sorry about the abrupt silence on the blog, I’ve been running around like the proverbial chook…

Suffice today I’m off tonight, via a small detour in Perth, and will hit Venice next Tuesday. I will be posting again once I hit the UK in March, to keep everyone up to speed with what I’m up to while ‘in residence’, at the Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol.

Talk then!