For someone inspired by imperfection, Julia Maria Künnap creates objects that perfectly capture a moment in time. With flawless skill and control Künnap transforms some of the earth’s hardest materials into melting pools of liquid, sweeping brushstrokes, and about-to-burst bubbles.
Overgrown, shows Künnap striving for ever more precision and pushing her materials to greater physical and conceptual limits. These efforts have resulted in impossibly thin fragments and delicate drips that suspend disbelief. Working natural stones, Künnap’s current show is filled with striking blues and greens, inky black, chalky white and translucent crystal, a bold palette that complements the juxtaposition of hand carved facets and highly polished curves.
Künnap’s work has always spoken to the magical reality of the natural world—the way water changes from liquid to solid and back to liquid again—and the human desire to understand and tame it. It is no coincidence therefore that finely cut gemstones and the tradition of lapidary work has been a main point of reference throughout Künnap’s work. In recent piece however, she playfully looks at other objects and materials altered by humans. Künnap carefully reshapes cacholong into a ball of crumpled paper. Though the stone is relatively unknown to even most gemstone connoisseurs, Künnap chose it for its matte texture and likeness to paper. With the labor of carving she highlights an unglamorous yet prized stone and makes permanent an ephemeral form that rarely exists beyond the trash bin. Similarly, her series of brushstroke brooches and earrings freeze a human act. By isolating the expressive curve and movement of a stroke, Künnap memorializes both the gesture and the resulting outcome.
Künnap marries her mastery of lapidary with subtlety. It is this union that makes Künnap’s work so seductive and timeless.
Julia Maria Künnap graduated in 2004 from the Estonian Academy of Arts, Jewellery Art Department under Professor Kadri Mälk. A 2018 recipient of the renowned Herbert Hofmann Prize, Künnap is known for her mysteriously and meticulously carved lapidary work. Her work has been included in group and solo exhibitions around the world. Julia Maria Künnap currently lives and works in Tallinn, Estonia. This is her second solo exhibition at Sienna Patti.