is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and
succeeds in helping souls into paradise.”—Christopher Columbus
, to Giotto’s
paintings of the Virgin and Child
, to Klimt’s
, the history of art is laden
with gold. Not only a signifier of wealth and power, gold also inspires passion
and spirituality, as it did for Columbus and countless others. In Bentley
Gallery’s new exhibition “GOLD
”, gold’s time-honored veneration is explored in
contemporary art. Described as “Contemporary art that shifts cultural
associations with the world’s most treasured metal,” the show gathers works by
15 artists who employ gold as a medium, and challenge the traditions
surrounding the use of gold in art.
Gallery owner Bentley Calverley asserts that works in the show “demonstrate
that in contemporary art, the use of gold is not limited by subject matter,
form, or style.” Gold leaf is an especially valuable tool in its ability to
easily infuse an artwork with gold’s physical and metaphorical properties,
while only covering the surface. Using this traditional material, often
associated with decorative arts and not often found in contemporary art,
artists in the show effectively convey a modernized vision of gold as signifier
of wealth and power.
covers resin circles with a smooth layer of gold leaf, creating what appear to
be flattened, concave orbs, appropriately evoking the moon in her Solar
covers a very large surface area with gold leaf and uses it as a brilliant
surface to invigorate the gridded and gestural mineral pigment designs he
paints on top.
also uses gold leaf as a background, using carbon gesso to
creates a simple, repetitive, freehand pattern, effectively enhanced in visual
interest and symbolic value through the use of gold.
offers a traditional gilded chair with a clubfoot, Silla con
, a humorous take on a traditional European
decorative art, proving that use of gold can only ensure elegance to an extent.
uses gold in her practice, making intricate textiles and tapestries that
interweave gold leaf and fibers. Her works are at once feats of craftsmanship
and through the use of gold, contemporized objects of desire. Gold’s use in
textiles is also explored in ’s Arcanum:
Death of Vanity
, which is an ironic embroidery of a peacock
being speared in the head by a jewel-encrusted weapon. From the gold-colored
silk lamé to the diamonds in an 18-karat gold setting, to the strands of red
crystals and garnets spilling out of the bird’s mouth, the work is
ostentatious—to say the very least. Commenting on the evils of vanity, Filomeno
offers material beauty as a means to ameliorate the dark scene of death.