Abstraction in Action Macaparana: Chus Burés, A Dialogue between Art & Design https://abstractioninaction.com/happenings/macaparana-chus-bures-dialogue-art-design/

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Artists: Getulio Alviani, Louise Bourgeois, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Sérvulo Esmeraldo, Carmen Herrera, Julio Le Parc, Macaparana, François Morellet, Marie Orensanz, César Paternosto, Nicolas Schöffer, Santiago Sierra, Jesús Rafael Soto, Luis Tomasello, Jacques Villeglé

Chus Burés, A Dialogue between Art & Design
March 20 – May 7, 2014
Marlborough Monaco


At the «crossroads between art and jewellery», Chus Burés’ artists’ jewels are the subtly precious fruit of an encounter between the artist’s inspiration and the designer’s savoir-faire. Within them lies a tale that is never the same twice and they exemplify an exchange, or even a veritable synergy, in which each partner’s talent has been enriched and completed through contact with the other. These encounters with artists, often instigated by Chus Burés himself, are the outcome of his active and dynamic approach which culminates when the designer immerses himself in the artist’s private universe. A marked ability to listen, understand and adapt is called for in order to assimilate, without distorting it, the artist’s creative spirit and grasp its specificity with the ultimate aim of producing a functional object. Chus Burés’ artists’ jewels, however, cannot be reduced to simple clothing accessories: they are limited editions, possess an autonomous existence, and constitute an identity-asserting stance towards art.

The story dates back to 1985 when Chus Burés worked with film director Pedro Almodóvar. The first major chapter, however, was written in the early 2000s when he met Louise Bourgeois. Preparations were underway at the time for her retrospective at the Museo Reina Sofía and Chus Burés was invited by the exhibition curator and the director of Louise Bourgeois’ studio to make a jewel with her. He found inspiration in a necklace she herself had once created. In a photograph taken in 1948 she can be seen wearing it, still a young woman, sitting beside her father in the New York restaurant Leon & Eddie. Chus Burés’ interpretation, which was the upshot of countless unforgettable meetings with her, offset the coercive character of the necklace with a string of fourteen crystals hanging from one of its enigmatic holes (Sans titre, 2000). A second project followed and produced the brooch Araignée (2005). This time the starting point was a photographic portrait of Louise Bourgeois by Peter Bellamy (1996) in which she appears to be hanging from a spider on a wall. Then Chus Burés had a vision: «the spider climbs down and settles, it integrates into the human body, as though into the architecture, it melts and creates a new architectural form». He made the emblematic arachnid, transmuted into a gold and silver brooch, in the image of the underlying ambivalence of Louise Bourgeois’ output, which is both magnificent and disturbing.

Another high spot in the career of Chus Burés that proved particularly enriching was his meeting with Barceló in 2007. The desire to use their four hands to create jewels arose from their mutual esteem. Chus said he was «dynamized by the instinctive, creative personality» of Barceló and «his ability to listen». The jewels entitled Boucle de mer, Gousse marine and Hameçon et appât (2007) belong to the informal register and are permeated by the world of rocks, sea and plants
in which Barceló was immersed at the time (he was completing the decorations for a chapel in Palma Cathedral, Majorca). These organic-looking jewels, sublimated by 18k gold, have links to the archaic beauty of Mycenaean treasures.

It was also in the 2000s that Chus Burés multiplied his joint endeavours with great figures of contemporary art from a wide range of aesthetic currents. Some of these encounters uncovered his interest in political and social art, the art of subversion and protest. He met Santiago Sierra in Mexico in the summer of 2005 and was won over by the radical methods Sierra used to denounce disentitlement and corruption in any guise. Their project stemmed from an article in El País about the trafficking generated by the working of diamond and gold mines in Africa. After observing, ironically, that «nobody is better placed than a creator of jewels to convey this drama», Santiago Sierra, in tandem with Chus Burés, realized two necklaces made from precious metals and stones (18k gold, white gold and diamonds). Both bear scathingly eloquent slogans: GOLDTRAFFICKILLS and DIAMONDTRAFFICKILLS. The designer opted to make them into chokers in order to «draw the idea more tightly and throw harsher light on it». The message of protest is not always so explicit, though. The jewels Chus Burés created with Jacques Villeglé – the necklace Rêverêverêveur and five matte silver rings entitled Rêver (2013) – derived from the socio-political alphabet Villeglé developed in 1969 out of graffiti, signs and ideograms he had seen on walls. In this invitation to «dream», which takes the form of «visual cryptograms», Chus Burés had the splendid idea of boosting the expressive force of the letters by dividing them out between the fingers of a hand. In the ebony bracelet he made with Marie Orensanz, on the other hand, one finds the echo of the words suspended throughout her work which, however, lay no claim to ideological truth. Thus the word «incomparable», discreetly engraved on the inside of the bracelet, sets the seal on an especially intense moment in their interaction, for that was what she exclaimed the first time she saw the bracelet.

The relations between Chus Burés and the masters of optical and kinetic art grew closer in 2003, and more especially from 2010 onwards. As a designer he felt empathy with this family of artists whose aesthetic is built on what he called “a formal terrain closely akin to my geometry”. Each encounter was an exciting adventure that left its mark and sometimes generated veritable fellow-feeling and friendship. The pendants and brooches Chus Burés created with Soto (2003) are a fine extension to the latter’s Écritures, for the artist’s interest in vibration and texture is perceptible in Burés’ treatment of the materials and colours (silver and lacquerwork). The admiration Chus Burés felt for Luis Tomasello (2010) gave rise to a collection of jewels which succeeds admirably in evoking the issues closest to the latter’s heart – his necklaces, brooches, pendants and earrings use texture, materials (silver and 18k gold) and assemblage to play elegantly with repetitions of the same element, the cube, and the light effects projected by invisible colour. The emulation that brought Chus Burés and Julio Le Parc together in 2010 proved equally fertile. The necklaces and earrings entitled M-3-R, made from silver and 18k gold respectively, are delicate allusions to Julio Le Parc’s work on light, while the magnificent parure (M-60-C) recalls not only his interest in notions of instability but the decisive impact his Continuels mobiles had on Paco Rabanne in the 1960s. With Cruz-Diez, that «great master of light, colour and movement», as Chus Burés himself called him, the project was carried out in several stages: the initial inspiration was provided by a chest plate worn by Nefertiti whereas other stages produced a sober bracelet and a pendant with an extraordinary kinetic cut. It seems likely that the quest for interplaying light reflections, which are ideally suited to jewellery, was what led Chus Burés to choose to make a jewel-size adaptation of NSoleil (1981- 2012) by the cybernetic artist Nicolas Schöffer. The salient traits of this silver brooch are its power to concentrate light and the skilful plaiting of the bands of relief work. The highly original bracelet Triangolo (2012), which he created with Alviani, is a minimalist, distilled version of the latter’s Triangolo di triangle (1967). The choice of yellow, white and rose gold in preference to the brilliance of steel endows it with a touch of preciosity. The brooch Dislocation (2012), the fruit of the memorable collaboration between Chus Burés and François Morellet, stems from the latter’s work of the same title, done in 2008, and clearly reflects his spirit, notably the way he likes to combine humour and disorder with the strictness of geometry. The adaptation to jewel format was accomplished by means of silver with a satin finish which echoes the neutrality of the white in the original work.

The same wish for minimalist sobriety is to be found in the jewels Chus Burés conceived with other geometric abstract artists. The brooches that were the upshot of his encounter with the sculptor and engraver Sérvulo Esmeraldo express the desire to endow materials with a tactile dimension, either by means of superimposed forms and matte silver (Feuilles mortes, 2012) or through the integration of the void (Carré, 2012). In his teamwork with César Paternosto, Chus Burés paid attention to the notions of balance, relationship and proportion by endowing hollowed-out geometrical surfaces with an active dimension (Sans titre, 2014). The same is true of the brooches he made with Carmen Herrera, in which the hard-edge divisions are stressed by both horizontal and vertical slits in the surface and unobtrusive touches of colour, which have an enlivening effect. As for the articulated and perforated jewels Chus Burés made with Macaparana, they illustrate his ability to capture the spirit of free geometry that gives life to the latter’s creations.

Born under the twin stars of talent and self-demanding standards, Chus Burés’ artists’ jewellery reveals admirably the imprint and personality of the artists with whom he has worked. The dialogue these jewels set up between art and design overturns traditionally acknowledged artistic categories and enriches our vision of the history of art and forms. As Paul Bowles aptly remarked of him in 1998: «We need people like him to broaden our knowledge and open up our gaze» (preface to the catalogue of the collection Vol de Nuit, 1999).

Domitille d’Orgeval

*Text from digital catalogue

March 31, 2014