Susan Cummins: Why did you decide to take on this show?
Lisa Albuquerque: I initially considered the exhibition out of respect for the three artists I have represented for more than a decade: Matthieu Cheminée, Gustavo Estrada, and Janis Kerman. The collective force of the artists in a new initiative made it a worthwhile project to undertake, and it gave me the opportunity to enjoy the presence of a few of the artists I’d long been aware of but had never worked with. A travelling exhibition can stretch a dealer and can challenge one’s personal proclivities.
Is there a consistent thread of some sort running through all of the work in this show?
What is particular to Quebec about the work in this show?
Lisa Albuquerque: The fact that they are jewelry artists who maintain a studio practice of such a high caliber—not production or middle-of-the-road work—is a distinguishing feature of this group of artists. That there are many others who could have been included—Josée Desjardins and Petra Luz, to name just two other gallery artists—would seem to suggest that the Quebec system is successfully producing and supporting studio artists. Otherwise, an organic homage to nature (primarily the female artists) and an architectural rigor (primarily the male) were the two predominating stylistic approaches.
Lisa Albuquerque: I would propose three artists, each for their different approaches. The first is Matthieu Cheminée, who is socio-politically motivated and about to publish a book on African metalsmithing techniques. He is working collaboratively with some master metalsmiths from Africa and incorporating their precious filigree work within his own jewelry. Cheminée’s techniques range from the ancient techniques of hand tooling and casting to the contemporary use of CAD/CAM design systems. He often contrasts found and precious materials to provoke thoughts of value. The next is Claudio Pino. His kinetic rings are built with as many as 85 solderings of independent gem-laden parts in one ring. They are meticulous mechanisms that play with light and space. And the final one is Roland Dubuc who works from a single sheet of metal to create jewelry of surprising complexity through folding, twisting, and knotting.
Matthieu, Claudio, and Roland – Could you please briefly describe your work?
Matthieu Cheminée: The collection I have made for this show is based on the West African elephant. Firstly, it’s my two-year-old son’s favorite “momo.” Secondly, this is an homage to the last West African elephants of Mali, a herd that I had the privilege to track, find, and follow with a group of young children who were tending their village livestock. It was in the middle of nowhere, somewhere around Gao. In the last few months, this region of Mali has been taken over by extremist Islamic groups who imposed the Sharia law. For me, this series represents both the distress of the people of Mali and the distress of this last herd of elephants which is just as vulnerable to these recent events. There are 14 angels who represent the power to get together to change or help a cause.
A narrative unfolds as each set of elements is revealed. For instance, the number five is repeated in this design with the golden drops at the top and the holes drilled in the bottom, which represent my identity. A four cardinal pointed star can be found under the plateau, describing an unexpected path. Finally, I intended to incorporate the poetry and exquisite properties evoked by the luxurious and sensual aspects of platinum.
Roland Dubuc: My piece is a nod and a wink to the group of 14 jewelers. It is sculpted from a single piece of metal separated into four bands. On top of the bracelet, 14 branches cross each other representing the 14 jewelers. Before they are folded, the 14 branches are parallel and independent of each other. Once folded, they regroup to form a whole that gives meaning to the 14 directions.