ENAMEL JEWELRY AND OBJECTS + ILLUSTRATIONS. February 11 – March 20, 2021
OPENING RECEPTION BY RESERVATION ONLY : firstname.lastname@example.org
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11 4 – 7 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 4 – 7PM
Montreal, February 4, 2021– Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h invites you to enter the poetic world of talented artist Aurélie Guillaume. A keen observer of her surroundings, Aurélie has created a series of enamel jewelry and objects and some illustrations which bring sparkles in our current situation. We are pleased to have Toni Greenbaum, a well-known American art historian to introduce Aurélie’s new series.
In her latest body of work, Le Poème, Québécois artist Aurélie Guillaume departs from her usual format of large cloisonné enamel brooches depicting cartoon-like characters. Prompted by the memory of simple, quiet moments spent with her family as a child growing up on the island of Martinique, Mlle. Guillaume has created both jewelry and objects that are more delicate and somewhat smaller in scale—often textured, dimensional, kinetic, and freely painted with enamel rather than enclosed, as in cloisonné.
The isolation of Covid-19 restrictions over the past year intensified Mlle. Guillaume’s desire to create works that evoke a poetic view of her immediate surroundings. Broadening her habitual connection with nature, she immersed herself in the simple pleasures of daily life that we typically take for granted. She focused on nature’s treasures found just outside her door, flora and fauna flourishing in nearby forests, insects that made her laugh, and flowers that spoke of love. She made delightful drawings, watercolors, and gouaches, often transforming them into jewelry that is intimate, tender, “soft,” as Mlle. Guillaume states, mitigating the temporary lack of human interaction caused by the pandemic.
One of the most compelling jewelry in the series is a multimedia pendant in the form of a pillow. Scads of tiny blue enamel flowers were individually sewn onto a structure assembled from rows of wavy rick-rack ribbon. The resulting surface reads like a carpet of freely moving elements that lightly tickle the skin when touched but are nonetheless stable due to the sturdy, yet pliant, foundation. Sparkle is a theme that runs through several works. An enamel brooch in the shape of an upside-down heart features a visage with white speckles haphazardly dotting a black background that moves gently from dark to light. The scintillating effect of stars twinkling in a night sky is enhanced by “eyes” of yellow sapphires and “cheeks” dappled with multiple CZs. Another brooch, symbolizing friendship in the guise of a dog’s head, is rendered in tones of yellow and orange cloisonné enamel, with orbs of glistening deep green CZs. Its verso, like the heart brooch, displays a shimmering surface of black enamel; but here, the effect is amplified by actual glitter, while a “fence” assembled from undulating oxidized silver strips, which encases the back, represents the barrier we oftentimes erect before welcoming new relationships.
In 2019 Mlle. Guillaume did a residency in Beijing, China, where she embarked on an intensive study of cloisonné, a technique at which Chinese artisans have traditionally excelled. Wishing to do a series of enamel bud vases, she designed diminutive copper vessels that were carefully crafted at her studio in Montreal, and then enameled with floral imagery in glorious pastel hues. A fancifully patterned enamel brooch features nine hand-carved seashell flowers that she found at a Chinese jewelry market. Whether brooches, pendants, objects, or paintings, the works that comprise Le Poème are peaceful and calming; they make us smile just like the natural wonders that inspired them—a welcome relief after a most trying year.
Toni Greenbaum, Brooklyn, 2021
Toni Greenbaum is an American art historian specializing in 20th/21st century jewelry. She is the author of Messengers of Modernism: American Studio Jewelry 1940-1960 and Sam Kramer: Jeweler on the Edge. She teaches a course in Theory and Criticism of Contemporary Jewelry at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Aurélie Guillaume has always played with the ancestral link between the enamel technique (glass powder being fused with metal through high temperature firing) and the art of storytelling. Former centuries’ artists would have adorned these lively objects with religious scenes, but Guillaume turned to street art, comics and other forms of popular culture to fuel her imagination. She studied jewellery design and metalsmithing at the Montreal School of Jewellery and at the NSCAD University of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Aurélie’s career is impressive for a 30-year old, with more than 40 exhibitions and her work having been displayed in North America, Europe and Asia. Some of her pieces have been purchased by the Enamel Arts Foundation in Los Angeles, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the University of Iowa Museum of art, the Pureun Culture Foundation in Seoul, South Korea. She was awarded the François Houdé Prize in 2018, and her brooch Theodule Pilule was purchased for the municipal collection of art by the city of Montreal.
The gallery thanks the SODEC for its support in this exhibition.