Irene Belfi celebrated in April the first year of the luminous space that bears her name, in the elegant neighborhood of Porta Venezia in Milan.
As soon as I cross the threshold I notice that Belfi, together with the Dutch designer Quintus Kropholler, has created an environment capable of reflecting the avant-garde character of what is today the very first gallery in Milan entirely dedicated to contemporary jewelry.
Irene has had the foresight to carve out a space in the Italian capital of contemporary art to cultivate her passion for this growing sector.
Milan, in fact, will host this autumn the first edition of Jewelry Week, during which several events such as exhibitions, workshops, lectures will animate the city.
Thus, it will align itself with other realities that periodically celebrate the universe of body decoration, such as the past editions of the Florence Jewellery Week promoted by LAO and the next planned for 2020.
Belfi’s encounter with contemporary jewelry, as she says, was as casual as exciting, occurring during a training experience in the Netherlands when she was studying visual arts at NABA. Hence the decision to try herself in goldsmithing, attending the Florentine Contemporary Jewelry School “Alchimia”, where she discovered to be especially talented in encouraging and guiding the potential of her colleagues. Afterward, she moved to the famous Dutch Gallery Marzee, where she worked for 4 months. Here Irene was able to study the functioning of the art market, finally deciding to launch bravely into the promotion of research jewelry.
During our meeting, she reminds me that art jewelry possesses the extraordinary virtue of establishing direct contact with its public, triggering at every new encounter different possibilities of relationships and suggestions.
With that premise, Irene shows me some pieces of the many characters of her gallery and tells me about their work.
Among the most famous artists, there’s a master of the ‘Padua School’, Stefano Marchetti, invited to explain his work last May for the gallery’s first birthday. Fascinated by the study of perceptive phenomena and the expressiveness of materials, he manages to combine artistic creation and scientific research. The heritage of Francesco Pavan’s teachings is reflected in some three-dimensional jewels, in which Marchetti build gold cages where perforated and jagged metallic sheets crinkle and probe the space.
Christofer Thompson-Royds too was a Belfi’s guest on last February for the meeting ‘Play around Natura Morta’. Here he had the opportunity to explain to his public the elements of his research, exposing part of his work. The desire to preserve the wonder of nature is at the base of the series of daisies necklaces painted on gold stems. Like memories crushed between the pages of a book, those flowers are inspired by Hans Sloane’s herbariums admired during a visit to the Natural History Museum in London, or more naturally they recall a summer afternoon spent weaving daisies necklaces.
In a similar manner, The Australian Julie Blyfield‘s jewels reveal the love for the world of botany, inherited from her family. Blyfield reinterprets the fragility of the flowers through the use of paper prototypes, working with chisels to create vibrant silver surfaces that reconstruct the vivid texture of the leaf veins. Her valuables are kept in important public collections such as the V&A Museum or the Musée des Art Décoratifs in Paris.
Next to personalities of this caliber new promises stand out in the Belfi’s collection, such as Bérénice Noel, a young goldsmith from Seychelles. Her first series tells the story of an enchanting mermaid who traps men, prisoners of the bewitching splendor of her treasures. These have the form of hook necklaces or earrings that fish pearls and quartzes.
The Korean Sang Deok Han, another young artist who was selected in 2015 for Preziosa Young, deals with strong and disturbing themes such as the clash between nature and its Manipulation by man, with results that appear however very refined, outcome of the ordered combination of heterogeneous materials, such as wood, iron, silver and urethane.
Thus the Georgian Tatjana Giorgadse puts in dialogue natural and synthetic, poor and noble materials, like wood and silver, sugru and semiprecious stones, playing on the combination of shapes and colors. Her earrings Deni Movida seem to activate strange chemical and processual reactions, in the citrines that come into contact through iron and oxidized silver, recalling certain alchemical experiments conceived by the famous poor artist Gilberto Zorio.
This is a brief description of the wonders that Irene hosts in her gallery, where many events are scheduled, including meetings, exhibitions, book presentations.
In January, the traveling exhibition ‘Preziosa Young 2019’, from today at the Galerie La Joaillerie par Mazlo in Paris and in October at the San Rocco Oratory in Padua, will finally stop here.
Stay up to date because the new gallery website is coming soon and it ensures: “we are working on something special for you…”.