Artist-made and -designed jewelry was somewhat of a trend in the 20th century: Picasso delved into jewelry design early on in his career, creating a series of cast-silver pendants with the help of his dentist; Alexander Calder is renowned for his handmade jewelry, inspired by the idea of wearable mobiles; and Salvador Dalí picked out rubies, sapphires, and pearls, and hired craftsmen to translate his Surrealist motifs into decadent, wearable art. This tradition continues into the present through major artists including Frank Stella, Jeff Koons, and Anish Kapoor, and a strong collector base. Munich’s Micheko Galerie engages this dialogue through their current exhibition “MASS,” featuring three young Asian jewelry artists Sungho Cho, Akiko Kurihara, and Fumiki Taguchi.
Each artist responds in one way or another to “MASS,” the German word for “measure.” Japanese artist Fumiki Taguchi explains that he took a personal approach to using measurements, recognizing the intimate nature of jewelry. With intentions to break with common conceptions like “big = heavy, small = light,” he created elegant works like 2400mm, a silver bracelet that resembles a delicate ribbon of tape measure and ballooned form, a thick gold ring that appears to be filled with air.
South Korean artist Sungho Cho creates brooches from reclaimed materials including plastic and plywood. He explains that he chose to experiment with plywood, “a comparatively cheap material, which we use in construction and carpentry,” and transform it into jewelry, to broaden the “traditional views of the jewelry world.” Each of his works are the result of careful measurement and use of the metric system; his square brooch is a flat, circular disk comprised of many tiny strips of plywood and leather, aligned carefully to resemble a small geometric painting.
Also from Japan, Akiko Kurihara has created jewelry since the age of 15, and presents works that are meant to provoke and delight; she remarks, “I expect that humor in my work would connect me to a person wearing my piece, as well as to people seeing the piece.” Kurihara’s works are simple, extremely wearable pieces that express her adept artistic eye through merging elegant aesthetics with wit. Her smile and tears and percentage necklaces cleverly combine multiple precious metals, while her the truth in the mirror brooch features text that can only be read properly while looking in the mirror.
“MASS” is on view at Micheko Galerie, Munich, Mar. 11th–21st, 2014.