12 January 2014

The Art of Sparkle @ Shalini Ganendra Fine Art

The tagline Jewellery as a fine art leads to unmet expectations at this SGFA Vision Culture Lecture, where Robert Baines describes his art practice through four series of metallurgical works. Expounding effervescently the story behind "Bracelet 'Java-la-Grande'", the artist attempts to convince listeners that the Portuguese were the first European settlers in Australia. The scholar proceeds to present "Frisches Fleisch: Fresh Meat", a tribute to forgers who kept the craft alive, via the curious symbols of an endangered giraffe. By the last act when he traces the history of compact discs to Etruscan goldsmiths, Robert's cheeky re-imaginings of jewellery history include a definitive element of performance. Association and relocation of concepts and visuals capture one's imagination, although superimposing his jewellery onto museum catalogues are intentionally kitsch.

Redder than Green

Robert combines a love for history and craft in his creations, where contemporaneity is applied via painted colour onto metal, and the make-believe stories that come with it. Such first-world approach to contemporary art proves tiresome, evident in the unimpressive selection of works on display/sale upstairs. The most attractive piece is a brooch in plain gold, its geometrical repetition a testament of skill, harking back to the virtuoso shaping of natural elements by Egyptian goldsmiths (whom Robert clearly adores). As more art objects get made to sustain the world's bulging (middle class) population, the trend to appreciate jewellery as art becomes increasingly popular, with major museums and the market getting into it. Despite the artist's assertions, jewellery will always be utilitarian craft. The lecture's tagline reveals many questions regarding the artefact, questions I will have to keep for another time. 

Gold brooch no 2

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