Fashion: Sophia Vari's art jewellery reaches new heights in St Moritz
February 4, 2017
Left, ‘Calypso’ ring in 14-ct gold plated silver (2000s).
Right, ‘Danae’́ brooch pendant in 14-ct gold plated silver (1990s)
Artist Sophia Vari first realised that her large-scale clay models might also take the more petite form of fine jewellery – or, what she fondly refers to as ‘portable sculptures’ – some 20 years ago. ‘From that day on, I had a new creative challenge that gave me a lot of joy because I could see the pieces being worn,’ she recalls. The wife of painter Fernando Botero, Vari approaches jewellery design in precisely the same manner as her abstract sculptures, collages and paintings, which express an enduring fascination for Cycladic and Olmec art. ‘I don’t differentiate in style or theme. I always work with the same force and exigency.’
Left, ‘Talthybios’ ring in 14-ct gold plated silver (2014).
Right, ‘Oïlée’ necklace, in 14-ct gold plated silver (2011)
As such, a recently opened exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska’s St Moritz outpost showcases over 30 of the artist’s geometric jewellery pieces. ‘We wanted to show a cross-section of Vari’s jewellery oeuvre in a gallery context,’ explains Galerie Gmurzynska CEO Mathias Rastorfer. Gmurzynska has previously exhibited artist’s jewellery by names including Calder and Picasso. That Vari’s name is now added to that roster is clearly a source of delight: ‘This gallery has represented so many important artists over decades, it’s a great honour to be exhibited here,’ she says.
Left, ‘Laocoon II’ cuff, in 14-ct gold plated silver and marble (1990s).
Right, ‘Feu Vibrant’ sculpture in sterling silver (2011)
'Clytia II' brooch pendant, in 14-ct gold plated silver and wood (2010)
From a gold pendant of sharp folds to a structured rose gold cuff with a central marble dome, Vari’s jewellery language is at once abstract and elegant. ‘Aside from being a piece of art that brings beauty and happiness, I believe that jewellery holds memories and that the pieces can transmit this,’ she says. Of her methods, she reveals: ‘It can take a week, a month or even more to realise a piece. I work until I know that I can’t take away or add anything more.’
'Sophia Vari: Magnificent Artist Jewellery' is on view until 12 February 2017.
For more information, visit the Galerie Gmurzynska:
Sophia Vari was born to a Greek father and a Hungarian mother in Attica, Greece. She has studied and worked abroad for a number of years, in England, but mainly in Paris, and it was there that she became acquainted with modern trends in sculpture, namely Cubism and Surrealism.
At the age of 16 Vari began painting, however by 1976 she felt the need to express herself through another medium. A visit to Egypt in 1978 caused Vari to realise the importance of monumental sculpture, and she went on to spend fifteen years working with bronze and marble. Exhibitions celebrating her sculptural works have taken place at the City Hall of Athens, and in Pietrasanta, Italy.
Eventually Vari found herself wanting to work with colour again. Thus, she turned to creating assemblages on canvas, in which she “no longer created with volume, but with colour, preserving my sculptural awareness of shape”. The fusion of these two artistic practices allows this artist to transfer colours onto different surfaces, and adapt them to various tones. Vari has also gained widespread recognition for her jewellery, or portable sculptures, designs.
Greatly aware of artistic traditions that came before her, Vari draws inspiration from both the ancient and classical worlds, like that of the Mayan, Egyptian, and Cycladic sculptures. She is also fascinated by the traditions that have shaped Italian art, and is influenced by the simple shapes and detail seen in the works of Giotto and Piero della Francesca.
Her creative talents have produced works that are full of sensuality, dynamism and intelligence. Notable exhibitions of Vari’s works have taken place in the Piazza Esedra, Italy, in Paris at the Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and in Monte Carlo in the gardens of Piazza del Casino. She is married to Colombian artist Fernando Botero and currently lives in Monaco, Colombia, Italy and New York.
Take a look at some of her Art Pieces:
SOPHIA VARI: Le Désir de la Forme
Jun 12th – Aug 30th 2015
Vari, a leading contemporary artist working in a variety of artistic media from oil painting to watercolour collage, will present works that incorporate a complex sense of space and volume, originating from soft, intertwined lines and created from materials such as marble and gilded bronze.
In the mid-1970s, the artist commenced her career in painting and gained international recognition. She later chiefly dedicated her artistic life to sculpting because, she commented: “I want to touch, I want the volume, I want to be able to work around my work, I want to create into a space, to prove what I created really does exist. Discovering these things, I began to feel my own existence.” Vari has also exhibited various celebrated jewellery lines from the UK to New York City, which have become known as portable or wearable sculptures.
The globetrotting Greek artist has presented her artworks in museums all around the world and will now embark upon the journey of presenting her sculptures in London. With the artworks in this exhibition, the artist wished to ‘imbue shapes and colour, even their geometry, with human qualities, within a spatial context.’ The sculptures, which were created from marble, bronze and gilded bronze, haven taken abstract forms, as with her jewellery. Figures are reduced to strong geometric shapes and highlight the contrasts between straight and curved lines.
Form and consistency are recognisably underlined in Sophia Vari’s monumental sculptures. They allure shape and colour and allude to abstract explorations of form and structure as expressed by past protagonists of modern art, who, in corresponding situations, also followed kindred creative inspiration by employing essential forms and metaphors of the human body. The strong pictorial elements of Vari’s sculptures were inspired by her extensive knowledge of traditional art forms and their history.
It is important to note that despite the diverse nature of Sophia Vari’s art, the works were not only dictated by intellectual or dogmatic rules. The foundation of her art is mostly and deeply spiritual. Her artistic inspiration is derived from the universal law of creation: that which we perceive through experience.
Works by Sophia Vari are the product of extensive experimentations geared towards the discovery of the unknown and subsequent implementation thereof into new shapes. These efforts appear virtually palpable in her sculptures. The resulting elegant and abstract explorations of form and structure express commitment as well as compassion; Vari’s work is based on the difference between what can be sensed and what can be seen.